Last month we wrote about essential planning documents for our young adults. This month it is all about you! Living through a third surge of Covid-19 is reason enough to get your house in order.
Ideally, you have executed a complete set of estate planning documents, including a will, revocable trusts, health care power-of-attorney, advance directive, and durable power-of-attorney. If your estate is larger and/or more complex, planning may extend beyond these documents.
In addition to your young adults and yourself, make sure your parents and other loved ones also have executed documents in place that will provide for someone to act on their behalf in the event they are unable to make decisions for themselves. We have had several clients experience their parents' sudden onset of an illness or gradual decline with dementia. With the appropriate documentation already in place it is much easier to step in on their behalf.
The most important documents include:
Advance Directive: this is a roadmap explaining the type of healthcare decisions to be made on your behalf in the event you are unable to act.
Health Care Proxy: This is a legal document appointing the person who is to act on your behalf. Sometimes it is part of the advance directive.
Durable Power of Attorney: This is a legal document appointing someone to financially act on your behalf. Not all your financial assets can (or should be) in a living trust. If you’re alive, yet incapacitated, the only way a trusted person acting on your behalf can access an IRA, pension, or other financial account in your name is through a durable financial power-of-attorney. If you want your spouse to talk to your credit card company or the mortgage or utility folks, and both your names aren’t on these accounts, the companies won’t speak to him or her without a durable financial power-of-attorney.
Please let me know if you need names of estate planning attorneys, or if you have questions you would like to discuss further.