A lot of people reduce the estate planning process to the execution of a will or a trust, and this is definitely at the core of the matter. At the same time, there are finer details that should be addressed, and a failure to do so can yield negative consequences.
Let’s look at three of these details that are easy to overlook.
Letter of Final Instructions
There is a human element that you should take into consideration when you are planning your estate. Someone has to complete a number of different tasks to bring your wishes to fruition after you are gone. If you use a will, this would be the executor, and the trustee is the administrator of a trust.
The administrator cannot do their job if they do not have the necessary practical information. You can provide it in a document called a letter of final instructions.
In this letter, you should provide the contact information for professionals and the personal contacts that should be notified about your death. The location of legally binding estate planning documents and deeds, titles, and other relevant paperwork should be shared.
The executor or trustee should be given the access information for your online financial accounts, social media accounts, and websites and blogs if you have them. You can also provide an explanation of your preferred final arrangements.
These are a few things to think about, but there are no rules to follow, and the document is not legally binding. Just ask yourself what the administrator will need to know and record it in a clear, sequential manner in the letter of final instructions.
Advance Directives for Health Care
Financial matters are definitely important, but you should also prepare for eventualities that you may face toward the end of your life. Many people become unable to communicate due to medical conditions, and you can use advance directives for health care to address this possibility.
One of the directives is a durable power of attorney for health care. This type of power of attorney would remain in effect in the event of your incapacity, so the “durable” designation is significant. You name an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf in this directive.
An accompanying document is a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) release. You can use one of these forms to give the agent the legal right to access your health care records and speak freely with your doctors.
Another directive that should be part of the plan is a living will. In this type of will, you record your life-support decisions. You can itemize each different life-sustaining method that can be utilized if you choose to do so, and you can add organ and tissue donation preferences.
When you fill out life insurance forms and the paperwork that goes along with your individual retirement account and payable on death accounts, you name beneficiaries. Over the years, things can change, so you should make sure that your beneficiary designations reflect your current wishes.
There is also the matter of successor beneficiaries. The administrators that guide people through the signing process may never mention the concept, but you have the right to name successor beneficiaries. You should take this step, because it would facilitate a smooth transition if the primary beneficiary was to pass away.
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The sessions are offered free of charge, and you don’t have to go anywhere to join us, so this is a great way to invest a bit of spare time. You can visit our webinar page to see the dates, and when you identify the session that works for you, follow the simple instructions to register.
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If you are ready to work with an attorney to put an estate plan in place, we are here to help. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 248-251-1001.