Get your affairs in order now.
We can learn a lot from others.
We see what they do right.
We also see what they do wrong.
We recognize the consequences of decisions, as well as the failure to make decisions.
According to a recent Post Independent article titled “Planning for the unexpected–4 Steps to get your affairs in order,” Aretha Franklin is an example of inadequate estate planning.
By not working with an experienced estate planning attorney to get her affairs in order, she left the courts and her loved ones with a messy estate.
What can you do to avoid a similar outcome?
At the very least you need a legal last will and testament.
A last will contains instructions for the nomination of an executor and for the eventual asset distribution.
The last will is filed with the probate court to settle your estate following your death.
Probate can be simple or complicated.
You should work with an experienced estate planning attorney to prepare your plan.
If you want to avoid probate and have greater control over your assets, your attorney may recommend a revocable living trust.
You can make these decisions together based on your goals and circumstances.
Title your assets properly.
After you have created your last will or revocable living trust, you are not done.
For starters, you need to fund your trust and retitle your assets.
What if you share property?
You will want to title it jointly if you want the other person to receive it automatically when you die.
Many accounts and all insurance policies pass through beneficiary designations rather than through a last will.
Be sure you review and update these so the correct person inherits each respective beneficiary designation asset.
Once you are dead, these names cannot be changed.
Create powers of attorney.
Incapacity is a possible and a frightening reality.
Be prepared by naming agents to act on your behalf should this happen.
You will want a health care treatment directive, a medical durable power of attorney, and a durable power of attorney.
Write a letter of instruction.
Although this letter carries no legal weight, it can give further peace to your family.
You can list accounts and documents, especially where and how to access them.
You can also provide contact information for your doctor, attorney, accountant, financial advisor, and insurance agents.
You can even outline your funeral and burial wishes.
Providing this extra information helps you to stay organized now and allows your loved ones to handle your affairs with greater ease later.
Take the time now to get your estate in order.
Your family will thank you.
Reference: Post Independent (July 22, 2019) “Planning for the unexpected–4 Steps to get your affairs in order”