The outbreak of Coronavirus has people all over the world thinking about their advanced directives. While this topic is generally annoying to think about (adulting is annoying) and even more annoying to discuss with your loved ones, estate planning is now more than ever a critical tool that can be used to assure that your wishes are carried out. There are four essential estate planning documents and a few steps that can help ease the uncertainty of this pandemic and provide a plan for the Coronavirus, or whatever the universe sends our way.
A Healthcare Proxy: A health care proxy document allows individuals to appoint someone to make health care decisions in the event that they lose the ability to make those decisions themselves. The health care proxy makes sure that the health care providers follow the client’s wishes by appointing an agent.
A Durable Power of Attorney: The power of attorney is a document where one person authorizes another to act on his behalf. The power of attorney is useful in allowing a busy or absentee party to act in his or her place, making business or financial transactions much easier to complete. Additionally, the power of attorney is useful in the event that a person becomes disabled or incapacitated, minimizing the disruption of financial transaction.
A Living Will: This is different than a Last Will and Testament. A living will is a document that allows individuals to dictate specific health care wishes. This document attempts to anticipate possible medical circumstances and outlines what medical treatments the client would want administered or withheld under those circumstances. The Healthcare proxy is the person designated to act for an individual and the living will is that person’s health directive.
A Will or Revocable Trust: Wills are documents used to direct how property should be distributed. They are fairly limited planning devices that are useful primarily in uncomplicated situations. We view wills as one of the many tools (along with trusts) available to constructing a well thought-out, customized estate plan.
Payable on Death Financial Accounts: There are specialized bank accounts that are recognized under U.S State laws, which is payable on death or what is known as a Payable on Death (POD) account. These accounts have the ability to be set up for checking, savings, and money market accounts. What a Payable on Death account does is allow for money to pass directly to the designated beneficiaries that are named on the account holder. The great benefit of a POD account is that it avoids the need for probate; the only thing necessary for beneficiaries to obtain control of the account is providing the original death certificate to the bank manager.
Beneficiary Designation. Updating the beneficiary designation form (for investment accounts, insurance policies and retirement accounts) is an important step to ensure that assets will be directed per the individual’s wishes. Without a designation, the asset will find its way to the final destination through the probate court.
To complete some of these documents, they may need to be witnessed and notarized. This can be problematic for those who have high risks, live in nursing homes, or have been quarantined. We provide minimal contact document execution services for those requiring added assurance during these crazy times.
While we’re all taking one day at a time, there are things we can do to be sure our future is more predictable. Please call us with any questions.
Stay sane people