There are a number of different factors that you should consider when you are planning your estate, and many people do not think about all of them. In this post, we will look at a few details that you may overlook in an effort to help you see a bigger picture.
Letter of Final Instruction
Let’s say that you are going to Europe for a couple of weeks, and you ask your brother to look after your house. You wouldn’t leave him a list of things to do without providing access to the tools that he will need to complete the tasks.
As simple as this sounds, there are those that draw up simple wills without leaving any other instructions. This is clearly going to make life difficult for the executor, and you can provide the necessary information if you compose a letter of final instruction.
There are no rules, and this is not a legally binding document. You simply ask yourself what the executor will need to administer the estate properly, and act accordingly.
For example, you should provide a list of the physical assets that will comprise the estate, and you should let the executor know where they can be found and how they can be accessed.
The location of relevant documents and login information for online accounts should be passed along as well. Your executor or trustee will need the names and contact information for people that should be notified, and you can express your funeral arrangement preferences.
These are a handful of things to think about, but as we have stated, there is no rigid structure that must be adhered to when you are creating a letter of final instruction.
The next detail can sound a little bit inane at first, but it can actually be quite important for some people. It is possible to include your pet in your estate plan through the utilization of a pet trust.
Yes, pets have shorter lifespans than humans, but people pass away unexpectedly every day. There is also the matter of pet ownership for senior citizens.
Loneliness is not uncommon among elders, and you can lose a sense of purpose when you are retired and no one is depending on you anymore. Pet ownership can be a godsend, but longevity is naturally going to be a source of concern.
This reluctance can be set aside if you know you can provide for your pet properly in your estate plan. If you establish a pet trust, you name a trustee to act as the administrator after you are gone. It can be someone that know, and you could alternately use a professional fiduciary.
If you predecease the pet, the trustee would follow specific instructions that you record in the trust declaration. They would be legally required to make sure that the pet is cared for in the manner that you set forth in the document.
After the death of the pet, a successor beneficiary that you designate in the trust agreement would inherit the assets that remain in the trust.
The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that over 35 percent of the oldest old have contracted this horrible disease that causes dementia. Unfortunately, this is not the only cause of cognitive impairment among elders, and some people become incapacitated due to physical ailments.
An incapacitated adult can become a ward of the state, and they could appoint a guardian to act on your behalf if you are ever in this position. This is not a very pleasant prospect, but you can prevent it if you execute the appropriate incapacity planning documents.
You can state your life support preferences in a living will, and you can name someone to make health care decisions that are not related to life-support in a durable power of attorney.
A provision in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) precludes doctors from sharing medical information with anyone other than the patient. You should sign a HIPAA release to give your health care agent this access.
For financial decision-making, you could name an agent in a durable power of attorney for property. If you have a living trust, you can empower a disability trustee when you are drawing up the trust declaration.
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We are here to help if you are ready to work with a Troy, Michigan estate planning lawyer to put a plan in place. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 248-251-1001.