People should prioritize getting their affairs in order through estate planning.
Many things and people demand your time and attention.
Perhaps you have a complex project at work you need to complete.
Maybe your children need a ride to baseball practice.
Perhaps the dishes from two nights ago need to be washed.
Although important, these never-seeming-to-get-caught-up demands can distract you from getting your affairs in order for your loved ones.
According to a recent News4Jax article titled “Are your affairs in order? Things to sign now to save your loved ones later,” estate planning is essential when preparing for incapacity or death.
Unfortunately, many Americans have not prioritized taking these steps.
In fact, a consumer report noted only 7 percent of Americans ages 19 to 29 have an advance directive for medical emergencies.
The same report noted even fewer people have a last will and testament.
By default, these “statistics” (i.e., people) place their loved ones in a tough situation because their affairs are not in order.
How do you get your affairs in order?
You should prepare for incapacity.
Creating a an advance health care directive (in our practice that is a health care treatment directive and a durable power of attorney for health care decisions) allow you to provide directions on your health care and designate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself.
Signing a HIPPA authorization enables health care providers to discuss your condition and your health care records with your designated agent.
Although these documents help with your health care considerations during incapacity, separate documents will be required to get your financial affairs in order.
A signed and notarized power of attorney allows you to appoint a trusted agent (also known as an attorney in fact) to manage your assets, bills, and contracts.
Do any of your accounts have transfer on death (TOD) or payable on death (POD) designations?
If so, the individual named on the account will receive the assets directly when you die.
It is important to keep these designations updated because you do not want an ex-spouse to inherit your assets.
The likelihood of your having digital assets is high.
You will want to inventory your “internet assets” and create a list.
This list should include any online accounts, social media, professional profiles, logins, and passwords.
You will want to list any accounts with autopay set up.
Finally, you will need a last will and testament to get your affairs in order.
With a last will and testament, you will designate your executor for your estate.
This person will manage your debts and settle your estate according to the provisions in your last will and testament.
Many people also choose to draft a tangible personal property memorandum to identify items that have no “title,” but do have sentimental and perhaps monetary value.
A funded revocable living trust can help organize all of y0ur assets for management if you become incapacitate and distribute them at your death, all without requiring probate.
By working with an experienced estate planning attorney evaluate your options, and then take the necessary steps to put your affairs in order for your loved ones.
Reference: News4Jax (Jan. 13, 2021) “Are your affairs in order? Things to sign now to save your loved ones later”