At Legacy Law Centers, our team of experienced attorneys knows that finding time in your busy schedule to take care of important estate planning matters can be difficult, especially if you are a parent working from home or a frontline worker during this pandemic. If you have been meaning to get started drafting an estate plan to ensure your legacy and loved ones are protected when you are no longer around, then consider the following questions to determine what legal documents you need to include.
Who Do You Trust to Handle Your Financial Affairs?
How your money and property will be handled is one of the most important issues to address in your estate plan. You will need a person you know is trustworthy, detail-oriented, and smart with money who can serve as your agent under a financial power of attorney or as successor trustee of your revocable living trust.
Depending on your situation, you should consider including some or all of the following powers of attorneys:
- General Durable Power of Attorney: Grants your agent the authority to do everything you could do.
- Limited Power of Attorney: Grants limited authority to the agent for financial tasks, such as opening a bank account to deposit a check.
- Springing Power of Attorney: With a springing power of attorney, your agent only has the authority to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
- Immediately Effective Power of Attorney: Grants the agent the power to carry out financial transactions on your behalf while you are still alive.
With a revocable living trust, you can name a person you trust to serve as your successor trustee if you are no longer able to fulfill the role of trustee. The person you select can manage your affairs when you die without the court getting involved. Whether the successor trustee handles your affairs after your death or if you become incapacitated, they are required to follow the instructions you specify in the trust instrument.
Who Will Communicate Your Wishes Regarding Medical Treatments?
You never know if you will find yourself in a situation where you can’t communicate your medical wishes, which is why you need to name an agent under a medical power of attorney. The person you name in this legal document has the authority to make life-or-death decisions on your behalf. You should choose a person you know is capable of acting under pressure and willing to advocate that doctors and hospital staff respect your wishes. Medical decisions are very personal, which is why you need to discuss your specific wishes with your agent and provide them with written instructions. This is where having a living will or advance directive in your estate plan comes in handy.
Do You Know Who Will Care for Your Minor Children?
It’s crucial to know who will care for your minor children in case you or the other custodial parent are unavailable. The person you choose needs to understand the mental, emotional, and financial responsibilities they will have to take on to raise your child, even if it only ends up being for a short time. It is also important to consider if the location of the guardian is convenient for the child or whether relocating, even temporarily, would be beneficial.
Do You Know Who Will Care for Your Pets?
If you own pets that you love like children, you can include them in your estate plan. If you are ever hurt or become ill and require hospital care, you will want to know that your pet’s needs are taken care of. That is why you should name a responsible person who gets along with your pet to discuss financial arrangements.
Do You Know How Your Money & Property Will Be Divided After You Pass Away?
Dividing your money and property among your heirs and other beneficiaries of your estate can be challenging. However, if you consider the best interests of each individual you want to leave money or assets to, it can make the process easier to manage.
It’s important to remember you can stagger distributions to your beneficiaries over time instead of giving them full access to the money and property that they will inherit. You can allocate a specific percentage of their inheritance that they will receive based on their age or major life events. You can also incentivize certain behaviors by specifying certain milestones or accomplishments that will result in payment once thye have been achieved by your beneficiaries.
Get Started Drafting Your Estate Plan Today
Are you ready to take the necessary legal precautions to ensure your family’s future is protected? Our top-notch attorneys at Legacy Law Centers are here to guide you and explain all of your options so you can make informed decisions. When you choose our firm to represent you, we will take the time to understand your needs and goals so that we can devise a unique estate plan for you.