There is more to the process of estate planning than the creation of a simple will. In fact, a trust can be a better choice as the centerpiece of your estate plan, but that’s a subject that we will tackle at another time.
Even if you do use a will, there are some finer details that many people overlook, and we will look at three of them in this post.
Letter of Last Instructions
The executor acts as an administrator when a will is used as an asset transfer vehicle. This individual will follow the instructions in the document with regard to the division of the property. However, there are practical tasks that must be completed to bring the wishes to fruition.
An executor will need certain information to be able to do the job, and you can provide it in a letter of last instructions.
In this letter, you provide the location of relevant documents and keys to property, lockboxes, vehicles, etc. You should also share the login information for the accounts that you manage online.
Certain people should be notified about your passing, like your accountant, your attorney, your insurance agent, and your funeral director. You can provide a list in the letter, and you can add personal and professional connections that you would like the executor to notify.
These are some of the obvious pieces of information that should to be passed along, but you can use basic common sense to ask yourself what the executor will need to get the job done.
Advance Directives for Health Care
Another base to cover is the matter of medical decision-making, and this is done through the utilization of documents called advance directives for health care.
One of the directives you should have is a living will. With this type of will, you record your life-support preferences. You can address every different type of life-support technique individually if you choose to do so, and you can add your organ and tissue donation choices.
This is one part of the equation, and there are situations that can arise when you are not capable of communicating that are not related to the use of life-support. To account for these scenarios, you can add a durable power of attorney for health care to name an agent to act on your behalf.
Doctors would not be able to discuss your condition with your agent unless you include a HIPAA release. The acronym stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that was enacted in 1996 to protect patient privacy.
Beneficiary Designations with Successors
You should make sure that the beneficiaries that are listed on your insurance policies, your individual retirement account, and your payable on death accounts reflect your actual wishes. If you have not looked at the documents in many years, you may not remember the designations accurately.
Another detail that is completely overlooked from the start in many cases is the matter of successor beneficiaries. As the name would indicate, the successor would become the primary beneficiary upon the death of the first beneficiary. This is a detail that you should definitely cover to avoid complicated circumstances that could arise.
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We have traditionally conducted seminars on an ongoing basis to provide educational opportunities to members of our community. The pandemic has impacted our ability to organize group events, so we have been offering webinars as an alternative.
You can learn a lot if you attend one of our events, and there is never an admission charge. If you head over to our webinar/seminar page, you can obtain more information about our upcoming events.
Need Help Now?
If you are ready to work with an estate planning attorney to put a custom crafted plan in place, we are here to help. You can schedule a consultation appointment if you call us at 631-265-0599, and you can fill out our contact form if you would prefer to send us a message.