Estate planning is something that should not be put off for another day because there is no guarantee that another day will ever come. Don’t leave it up to the courts to decide where your assets will end up. Taking care of it yourself is the right thing to do. Be clear – if you ignore this responsibility it will be your family who pays the price. These are some of the things you should consider:
- The secure storage of your legal documents and knowing where to access them is information that can be shared with your lawyer and your executor.
- If you’re in business for yourself be sure to devise a succession plan. A buyout agreement should be in place in the case of partnerships in businesses.
- Sign your organ donor card, even if it’s on the back of your driver’s license! Be sure that your wishes are known when it comes to the final disposal of your body.
- Funerals that are prepaid (and preplanned) along with specific instructions about burial or cremation take a large burden off of those left behind.
- Plan for estate taxes, if applicable. Your estate planning lawyer will help you with this during your planning sessions.
- Don’t leave everybody financially high and dry; invest in life insurance.
- The forms detailing the beneficiaries of funds “payable upon death” need to be filled out correctly and completely to avoid probate. Don’t forget contingent beneficiaries.
- In the case of minor children, be sure that a trustworthy individual is named as their guardian.
- Execute a financial power of attorney. This person will take care of your finances should you be unable to do so.
- Be sure you have an advance health care directive and a power of attorney for health care in place.
- A living trust is a great way to avoid probate. Discuss this with your estate planning attorney.
If you do not have an estate plan in place, now is the time to take action…today… not tomorrow, not next week, and not next year.
Author, President and Founding Attorney
Parman & Easterday