For us here at Estate Planning Group, tough questions are a part of daily life in the office.
Anyone who has lived past the age of four has likely come into that scenario where questions needed to be asked; questions of the type where the answer could have life-altering, earth-shattering consequences. For many of us, a fairly commonplace example is “Will you marry me?” For some five-year olds, it’s “How was I made?” And for others, it’s “Did I remember to bring in the laundry before it started raining cats and dogs outside?” For us here at Estate Planning Group, tough questions are a part of daily life in the office, where we counsel clients on some of the most difficult decisions people can encounter in their lives: What happens to all of my possessions when I pass away, who should decide whether or not to pull the plug if I’m reduced to a vegetative state, and who will take care of my dog when I’m no longer there for him/her?
Cover all your bases, and make sure that nothing is left to chance.
The above summarize one of the essential duties of an estate planning attorney: to cover all your bases, and make sure that nothing is left to chance when it comes to your assets and decisions regarding your personal health. Below are a series of questions which one’s estate plan should hold the answers to:
- Who are my beneficiaries?
It can be difficult to decide among spouse, children, and other loved ones who receives what and, more importantly, how they receive it; this is why it’s better to tackle this question earlier rather than later, while keeping tabs on your choices should they change later in life. As discussed in previous blogs, a trust can ensure specificity and avoidance of fighting and court proceedings in case the worst should ever happen. Trusts may also be used to protect your hard-earned assets from creditors or to make sure your assets go to your children or grandchildren, and not your son or daughter-in-law.
- Who do I trust to make important financial and medical decisions on my behalf?
Leaving your loved ones without a Trust, Power of Attorney, Advance Healthcare Directive, or Will addressing the above can lead to nightmarish infighting over the answers to this question should you become incapacitated or pass away. All of the aforementioned documents should be included in your estate plan.
- What about my minor children and pets?
Appointing responsibility for a minor child’s care is a difficult yet important decision which must never be left for “later.” Should the worst happen without a designee having been appointed, a judge will be making the decision in your stead. A trust can also account for the care of your pet(s); we know that pets are family too.
- Computers/Online Accounts?
As much of our financial management, personal photographs, and communication are now stored digitally, you might want to include directions in a trust or will as to what should be done with your computer and online presence when you are no longer there to manage them. Compiling usernames, passwords, and specific directions for your computer and each account and storing them in a safe place can save your family much time and trouble, as well as save some valuable memories for future generations along the way.
- What to do with my body after I’m gone?
Although you could leave it to loved ones to decide what should be done with your remains, it is usually better to clarify this in your estate planning documents so that there is no room for argument, and so that you can avoid subjecting loved ones to the stresses involved in making such a decision following your passing.
The above questions are just a few of the points a proper estate plan should cover. At Estate Planning Group, we can assist you in answering these as well as other questions in the course of planning your estate, minimizing the stress on you and your loved ones should the worst ever occur.
For more information on how we can assist you, please feel free to contact us and a representative will contact you within one business day.
You can find more information on probate proceedings here.
- Probate: Agent of Relief, or Monster Under the Bed?
- What Happens To Us When We Die?
- Meet us! A EPG Video Introduction