Looking for a productive way to spend a peaceful winter day? Here is an idea: review your current legal documents that are absolutely essential in the event of an unexpected accident, sudden illness, or death to see if your documents need to be updated or if you need to have additional documents in place. By putting in a little time now, you and your loved ones can enjoy peace of mind for years to come.
Simply put, a last will and testament formalizes your wishes – from wealth and property distribution to naming guardians for your children. It also designates an executor(s), trustees and other persons who will manage your estate and affairs and take responsibility for carrying out your wishes.
Should you need support navigating your personal affairs such as tax returns or banking activities, a Power of Attorney (POA) authorizes someone you trust to act in your place. Ultimately, having a POA in place can help ensure that your bills are paid, your financial documents are filed, and your wealth is safeguarded.
In addition to giving someone the authority to speak with medical providers (which is likewise typically covered with a HIPAA release form), a health care proxy/living will allows designated individuals to make choices about your healthcare when you are deemed unable to do so.
The RLT is an entity created for the purpose of holding ownership of the possessions or properties you transfer into it. You are able to use anything that is part of the trust (and continue to add to it) until your death; at that point the assets of the trust can be transferred to beneficiaries without going through probate.
In addition, you should have (in clearly marked folders) the titles and deeds to your homes and vehicles, copies of your insurance policies, and documents such as your birth certificate, social security card, and – if applicable – your marriage license, divorce certificate, and prenuptial agreement. In addition, make a list of all financial accounts (banking, stocks, 401Ks, IRAs, credit cards, etc) and associated information. It is also helpful to clearly note the names and numbers of your attorney, accountant, financial advisor, bank(s), insurance broker, and anyone else who might be able to support those who are tasked with managing your estate.
Lastly, be sure to use a water- and fire-proof safe to store all of the aforementioned documents and files.
If you need help putting any of these legal documents together or you would like to have an estate planning attorney review (and, if needed, update) your existing documents, we’re here to help. Learn more at mccm.com or call Rebecca M. Blahut at 845-486-6800 to schedule a consultation.