It is not enough simply to have an estate plan. Everything must be thought out, and the documents have to be known to your family and friends and available in time of emergency. Here is a starting list of what you need and how to let your family and executor know about your plan:
- Last Will and Testament ‒ Very basic. Do not use an online will. Oftentimes an incorrectly prepared will is worse than no will at all.
- Living Trust ‒ This avoids probate on your assets. Checkett & Pauly prepares many living trusts, but sometimes there are cheaper and easier ways.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney ‒ This is sometimes called an "advance directive." It allows you to declare your desires to forego life-prolonging medical interventions when there is no hope for recovery. Everyone in your family needs to know about your living will and where it is located.
- Durable Power of Attorney ‒ A durable power of attorney continues even after you are incapacitated, unlike a regular power of attorney. It is coupled with healthcare provisions and authority to handle legal and financial matters as well. Again, do not just sign this document and put it in your safety deposit box. Your living will and power of attorney need to be available to all of your family.
- Computer information ‒ Keep a list of your passwords and logins for everything.
- Tax Returns ‒ Make sure everyone knows your tax preparer and the location of all of your returns.
- Bank Accounts ‒ It sounds simple but your family needs to know where and how you bank.
- Everyday Items ‒ Where are the keys? Where are the insurance policies? Where do you keep the titles to the vehicles?
The whole purpose of this process is to be sure that your family has as easy a time as possible upon your passing. Checkett & Pauly has a brochure that you can use to make your last wishes known to all of your friends and family. The brochure is free and available just by calling (417) 358-4049.