Did you know that everyone, regardless of income, has an estate?
A few months back we touched on wills and a few things you should keep in mind when creating one. But a will is only one part of what your complete estate plan should include. With the right documents, your plan can help provide protection both during your life and after your passing. Here’s a simplified run-down of some of the documents you might consider as part of your plan:
In this document you can basically specify who you want to get what, from your house to great-aunt Patty’s quilt. A will can also name who you want to take guardianship of any children should both parents be unable to while the kids are still minors. Guardianship of your pet can also be covered in your will.
If you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself, these documents can spell out your health care wishes. You can also authorize someone to make any necessary medical decisions on your behalf. Documents may include a living will, a power of attorney agreement, and a durable power of attorney agreement for healthcare.
You can outline your financial wishes within these documents, as well as grant someone you trust the authority to manage your finances if you become unable to do so yourself. This can be helpful in making sure that bills continue to get paid and insurance benefits for your care can be collected. These documents may include joint ownership, durable power of attorney, and living trusts.
Make sure that you’ve updated these forms for any life changes you’ve had. Having named beneficiaries for some bank accounts and retirement plans can make them "payable on death" to your beneficiaries, but in other cases you will need to fill out a "Payable on Death" form so be sure to check with your financial institution.
Letter of instruction
This is a non-legal document that outlines your wishes. A strong, well-written letter may save your heirs time, effort, and expense as they administer your estate.
One more note… Once you have your documents in order, don’t forget to make sure your heirs know where to find them when they are needed! In addition to what we’ve listed above, they may also need access to life insurance policies, property deeds, safe deposit boxes, and information on any debts you might have.
Though this list certainly doesn’t cover everything you might need, it does give you enough information to get started. To help ensure that you’ve covered all your document bases consider working with someone knowledgeable in estate planning.
If you’re uncertain about what to do or what you might need, give us a call and we can walk you through the process. As always, we’re happy to help! (And we’re pretty good at helping to wrangle those ducks into a row 😉)