What will happen to your property if you were to suddenly pass away? Will your minor children be taken care of? Is a long legal process in store for your loved ones? A well-constructed estate plan will answer these questions. We provide an introduction to a few fundamentals of estate planning in this blog as well as some compelling reasons why you should start on yours today.
- Last Will and Testament. A Will, more likely than not, is going to be the foundation of your estate plan. This estate planning document directs where and to whom most of your assets will go. Contrary to popular belief, a Will is not only useful for wealthy people. If you have any assets or property, you have an estate; don’t you want your possessions to go to the people who deserve them? Another important function of a Will is to name successor guardians. Parents with minor children need to create Wills so their choice of guardian actually cares for their kids.
- Power of Attorney. Essentially, power of attorney gives someone else (an agent) the authority to act on your behalf and make decisions for you in certain situations. For instance, a general power of attorney allows your agent to engage in various financial deals on your behalf. You might also choose to make a medical power of attorney, which grants the agent authority to make decisions about matters like life-sustaining treatments if you become incapacitated. Be specific about whether you want your powers of attorney to be effective while you have capacity or when you lose capacity.
- Living Will. This is similar to a medical power of attorney. However, while a medical power of attorney gives someone else the power to make decisions about your medical care, a living Will spells out your wishes ahead of time so there is already a blueprint for your care.
Keep Your Original Documents Safe — Literally
A good place to keep most estate planning documents is a safe deposit box. Some documents should be kept in your house for quick and easy access. Wherever you decide to keep your Will or other important documents, make sure you hold on to the originals. Your attorney needs the originals to bring to court. If any of your estate planning documents give authority or responsibility to someone else, make sure those people have copies.
One sobering lesson 2020 reinforced is that next week or tomorrow is not guaranteed. While it was a tough and heartbreaking year for many, we hope it also helped you refocus on what truly means the most. An estate plan addresses these important parts of our lives — our families, friends, and prized possessions.
Let 2021 be a year of maturity, intentionality, and purpose. Branch Family Law would be honored to help you lean into those traits by helping come up with an effective estate plan for you. Get in touch with our team today to set up a free 30-minute consultation.