Now that the holidays have passed and it’s time to take down the decorations, it might be a good time to update your estate planning portfolio and determine what documents need to be updated or added to your estate plan.
Everyone should have a few basic documents prepared regardless of age or asset levels. Let’s review a shortlist of what to consider.
Financial Power of Attorney
Have you considered what happens to your finances or who would pay the bills on your behalf if you were hospitalized for an accident or illness? Your estate planning attorney can help you create a power of attorney that allows a trusted individual to access funds and pay bills while you are incapacitated, traveling, or otherwise unprepared to handle matters. You can have this document set up to allow that person to assist you at any time or only if you become incapacitated.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
Did you know that you can assign a family member or friend to make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to make or communicate decisions on your own? Did you know that if you suffer from a terminal condition and become unable to communicate your wishes, you can provide instructions to healthcare providers in advance about the type of care you want to receive? A well-written healthcare power of attorney leaves you in control of your situation, reduces uncertainty and worry for family members, and authorizes an individual to make medical decisions for you when needed.
Federal laws severely limit your family’s ability to access your medical information unless you have prepared an authorization form in advance. HIPAA authorization allows someone you trust to talk with doctors and handle medical billing and insurance issues.
Last Will and Testament
You need a will to specify who will pay your bills and settle your estate when you pass and how you want proceeds to be distributed. If you don’t have a will, the decision to appoint a representative falls on the court, and your assets will pass according to succession laws that may not be acceptable to you. Discuss creating a will with your estate planning attorney even if you have a trust already in place, or you know most of your property will pass through other means.
Trusts can accomplish a wide variety of objectives, including reducing tax liability. Consider discussing with your estate planning attorney setting up a revocable living trust to avoid probate or a trust that can be used to conserve assets in anticipation of long-term care needs.
Are Your Estate Planning Documents Ready for the New Year?
The beginning of the year is the perfect time to update your documents and make sure they comply with current legal requirements as well as still meet your needs. Contact our specialists at Salines-Mondello Law Firm, PC, and let’s update your estate plan today.