People are an important part of estate planning.
You have assets.
You know where you what them to go.
Perhaps you have forgotten one key component.
The people named in your estate plan.
According to a recent Forbes article “Defusing The Time Bombs In Your Estate Plan,” addressing the “who” of your estate plan is as important as addressing the “what”.
The agents who are given authority to act on your behalf before or after you die, can make a significant difference.
They can either help or hurt your plan.
Agent (or Attorney in Fact)
You will designate an agent in your advanced medical directive or your power of attorney.
What do they do?
They will make medical and financial decisions on your behalf should you be alive, but unable to make your own decisions.
Do you have a trust?
You would have placed limits in the trust agreement.
A trustee is given authority to act on behalf of the trust.
This involves managing investments, paying taxes, and making distributions.
When you pass away, the executor will distribute and manage your estate.
An executor may also be called a personal representative.
He or she must carry out your wishes as expressed in your will.
Social Security Representative Payee
This person is appointed to help manage your Social Security benefits should you be unable to do so yourself.
Social Security will take into consideration requests for a specific representative.
Long-Term Care Insurance Lapse Designee
What happens if you are incapacitated and unable to make long-term care insurance payments?
There is a danger no one will know they are overdue.
You can designate another individual to receive notices and make payments on your behalf.
Agent for Funeral Decisions
Some states require an individual to be designated as an agent before he or she can make decisions for your funeral.
Financial Account Designees
You can choose to set up an account so it is transferred on death to another.
A joint account with a relative or friend can also function in a similar way.
The money will go directly to the individual while skipping probate.
Who should be designated for each of these positions?
The individual must be qualified, of legal age and otherwise not be incapacitated.
You should inform the individual he or she has been selected by you for the role.
You should also explain the role.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure you have the correct individuals designated to handle you affairs.
So, how do you find an "experienced" estate planning attorney?
First, ask around. Friends, family and other professional advisors are trustworthy sources.
Second, conduct an "organic" search on "Google" for "estate planning" near you (e.g., "Estate Planning Anytown MoKan").
Third, either way, verify! Check out the education, experience, ratings and client reviews of any attorney before you contact him or her.
In fact, I use both of these services to thoroughly vett attorneys before referring members of our "client" family for legal help in other areas of law or for matters in jurisdictions outside Kansas or Missouri.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: Forbes (July 23, 2018) “Defusing The Time Bombs In Your Estate Plan”