An estate plan should be comprehensive in nature, and many people do not take the time to learn about the components that should be included. With this in mind, we will look at the specific documents that should be part of the plan.
A lot of people assume that you should use a will to facilitate asset transfers. In reality, though, for many people a living trust should be at the core of their estate plans.
When you have a revocable living trust, you are taking a holistic approach that will serve your interests as your life evolves. All the assets that you transferred to the trust are just as accessible to you as they were when they were in your direct personal possession.
At the same time, if you pass away unexpectedly for some reason, there will be a plan in place to protect your family. You name a successor trustee when you have a living trust, and they would manage the assets after your passing.
This can provide peace of mind when you have minor children. If the unthinkable takes place, an adult that you trust will be empowered to manage the assets in the trust on their behalf.
Life insurance can serve as the ideal income replacement vehicle, and a living trust can be the beneficiary of a life insurance policy.
A married couple can use a shared living trust, and the surviving spouse would be the sole trustee after the death of one spouse.
This is just one of a number of different trusts that can be used, and the other ones satisfy certain specific objectives. You should discuss your options with an estate planning attorney before you make any decisions.
Letter of Last Instruction
You should provide your estate administrator with the information they will need to complete their tasks. We are talking about the location of keys, access codes, passwords for online accounts, hardcopy documents, and contact information for people that should be notified.
A letter of last instruction should be included in your estate plan to convey this information to the trustee or executor.
Advance Health Care Directives
If you are being kept alive on life-support, would you want to be in that condition indefinitely if there was no hope of recovery? This is a personal decision, and no one should be forced to make such a decision for someone else, even if it is a close family member.
You can take the matter into your own hands in advance and assert your wishes in a living will. Different types of life-support methods can be addressed if you want to break it down in this manner, and the document can include your organ and tissue donation choices.
There is also the matter of medical decision-making that is not related to life-support. In a durable power of attorney for health care, you can name an agent to act on your behalf, if needed.
Doctors would not be free to discuss your medical condition with your agent unless you sign a HIPAA release so this is another document that should be part of the plan.
Financial Power of Attorney
Cognitive impairment is common among elders, and the state can appoint a guardian to act for you in the event of your incapacity. You can prevent a guardianship and choose your own decision-maker in advance in a durable power of attorney for property.
Another benefit that a living trust will provide is the ability to prepare for this eventuality. The successor trustee that you name in the document can be given the power to administer the trust in the event of your incapacity.
Take Action Today!
Today is the day for action if you are going through life without estate plan. You can set up a consultation at our Charlotte, NC or Huntersville, NC estate planning office if you call us at 704-944-3245.
Our Ashland, Kentucky location can be reached at 606-324-5516, and our Florence, Kentucky office can be reached at 859-372-6655. You can also use our contact form if you would rather send us a message.