It’s an old expression, but it is still relevant: planning for your eventual passing is a kindness we do for those we will leave behind.
Estate planning includes tax planning, charitable giving and passing assets on to the next generation. However, it also involves preparing for your death and making it easier for your loved ones. An experienced estate planning attorney will help you prepare the proper documents and educate you about what comes after you pass. Hint: don’t put this off. We never know what lies ahead.
A recent article in The (Prescott) Daily Courier asks “I’m dead. Now what?” The article advises you to act now and get your affairs in order, just to be safe. Take a look at a few of the things you’ll need to get started.
Collect all of your important papers in one place and tell someone where they are, preferably a trusted family member. These might include things such as:
- Your Social Security card, living will, military records and other legal documents;
- Contact information for your estate planning attorney, accountant, banks, investment firms and life insurance company;
- Bank account info, safe deposit box key, vehicle titles, the deed to the house and last year’s tax return. You may want to avoid probate by adding another person to titles and property—ask your attorney how to do this correctly;
- Monthly bills, property tax bills, credit card companies, passwords for online billing, as well as passwords for PCs and electronic devices.
Go through your home with family members and/or friends and inventory the items they would want to receive after your death. Put your list with your important papers.
Part of your planning must include taking steps for incapacitation. Give permission in advance through a durable power of attorney for health care and a regular durable power of attorney to someone you trust. Without your authority, your caregiver won’t be able to access information, consult with your doctor or pay your bills. An advance directive is used when you get sick. If you know what kind of care you want or don’t want, draft a living will so that your family won’t have to make the difficult decision to take you off life support. You will have made that decision in this document long before the situation arises. A durable power of attorney for health care gives your designated agent the power to make medical decisions for you, if you are unable to do so.
Make your own funeral and burial arrangements, to alleviate the burden on your family and to be certain that your wishes will be followed after death. Pre-pay your burial and funeral expenses to lock in today’s cost. If you don’t make these arrangements yourself, your family may be facing a large expense during a very difficult time.
Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure your will and other documents are properly prepared and executed.
Reference: The (Prescott) Daily Courier (January 11, 2018) “I’m dead. Now what?”