There’s No Better Time than Now to Get Your Affairs in Order
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to slow down and self-quarantine. Some people are using this time to connect with family, clean closets or binge-watch a television show. However, this health crisis also provides time that can be used to determine what is best for your future. In other words, this is a great time to get your affairs in order by creating an estate plan.
Elements of an Estate Plan
An estate plan is one that addresses your current and future financial needs, assigns persons to make financial or medical decisions in the event that you are incapacitated, and designates how your estate will be distributed after your death. The 6 key elements of an estate plan are as follows:
- This document is the one most people think of when discussing an estate plan, but it is only one piece of this process. However, it is an important one. This document details how your assets will be distributed after your death and can also include guardianships for young children.
- A trust is a legal process whereby a trustee holds and manages assets for the designated beneficiaries. There are several types of trusts and they serve different purposes, and an estate plan specialist will advise you as to which one best serves your needs.
- Financial Power of Attorney. Through this document, you designate who will manage your finances if you should become incapacitated. This document is very important if you are single, if your spouse has dementia, or to avoid confusion about who will take on this role if needed.
- Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will. The medical power of attorney designates who will make medical decisions on your behalf if you should become incapacitated and unable to make these decisions on your own. A living will provides written instructions for your health care in the same circumstances, such as a “Do Not Resuscitate” order.
- Designation of Beneficiaries. In addition to the asset distribution detailed in your will, other assets, such as life insurance policies and 401(k) plans, require a beneficiary to be designated.
- Designation of Guardianships. As discussed in Wills above, if you have young children or a child with mental disabilities, it is important to establish a guardianship to assure that they are cared for in the event of your death before they are 21 or as long as necessary in the case of a person with mental disabilities.
Work with an Estate Planning Specialist
While the basic elements of an estate plan appear to be fairly straightforward, there are many areas where working with a specialist can help you achieve the ultimate goals of your plan. This person can assist with the following:
- Assure Continuity. It is easy to overlook the fact that you have left your life insurance policy proceeds to one person in your will but have actually named a different beneficiary on the policy itself. A specialist will assure that the plan you make is consistent throughout each element to create a cohesive whole.
- Meet Legal Requirements. Every state has its own laws regarding each element of an estate plan and you want to work with someone who can assure that the estate planning terms are enforceable under the laws of the state in which you live. Estate Planning Specialists will also help you to update your plan if the laws change and can modify the plan if you move from one state to another.
- Capture your Entire Estate. You may overlook an asset or purchase new assets over time, which can create legal problems or unintentional beneficiaries if these assets are not addressed in your estate plan. Your specialist will work with you to assure that every asset is captured in your plan and will schedule appointments to review it over time to adjust for any changes.
- Assure Appropriate Distribution of Assets. Without the assistance of an expert in estate planning, you may unwittingly leave property to someone who you never intended to name as a beneficiary. This is especially true in cases of divorce and it is helpful to have someone review the plan to assure that it is managed exactly as you choose.
Life Counsel & Planning can assist you in creating personalized estate plans.. We know the laws and understand how to structure your estate so that it is complete, cohesive and meets your goals. We offer a free consultation and can meet with you by phone or via internet conferencing services, as well as in-person once the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. There is no need to wait as we are available now. Simply call (904) 638-2345 to schedule your appointment today.