However, who will take care of your personal financial needs if you are still alive, but disabled or incompetent? Who will manage your affairs when you are physically or mentally unable to do so? This is when the other critical estate planning documents come into play. These documents are needed in the event you are unable to make these decisions yourself:
• Durable Power of Attorney: Allows for the person you nominate to continue to perform your financial transactions, like paying bills on your behalf.
• Health Care Power of Attorney: Somebody authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf including choosing doctors, planning or hiring caregivers. This person ensures that your advanced directives are being followed.
• Advance Directives: These spell out your wishes for health care if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself.
• Living Will: A type of advance directive that typically focuses on end-of-life decisions, including whether you wish life-sustaining efforts to be made and which treatments you do or do not want to take place.
These documents should be included with your Last Will and Testament and/or living, revocable or family trust.
A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.
The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
Depending upon your personal situation, estate documents can be basic or complex. For basic estate documents, the online process can work very well if you’d like to do it yourself. Many have found it reasonably priced and easy to use. You will need access to a computer and printer. One online option you may consider is Quicken Will Maker & Trust 2022 at nolo.com/lander/willmaker. This product can guide you through the process. It has state specific documents that lead you through a question and answer process to customize your own estate documents.
However, if you have a more sophisticated estate, special needs or a complex family situation, using an attorney will be worth the cost. A good estate attorney will walk you through the process and draw your attention to areas you may not have considered.
Either way, there is effort required on your part. For instance, if your home is listed as a trust asset in a document, you will need to visit your county recorder to update the ownership on your deed. Merely stating that an asset is in the trust does not make it a trust asset. The same goes for investment accounts. Titles and registrations need to be updated to “fund” the trust. Without the proper registration of your assets your trust will be empty and have no authority. This requires legwork from either you or the attorney.
Yet, many of us don’t have these documents in place. Why? Some do not want to be reminded of their own mortality. For others, the process seems too complicated, expensive or they just have not “gotten around to it.” Unfortunately, leaving your loved ones with no authority to act on your behalf will most certainly result in higher costs, confusion and frustration. Lack of proper estate documents can also leave your family vulnerable to relatives arguing over your wishes and estate.
Who will legally manage your affairs when you are physically or mentally unable to do so? The answer is no one; unless you prepare and authorize someone by creating your own estate documents.
If you have questions please contact our Planned Giving Coordinator, Howard Marchbanks at (513) 570-2343 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Howard Marchbanks, CFP