For many the month of October brings to mind Halloween or haunted theme park adventures, scary movies, fall weather and pumpkin spice everything. Yet, what most don’t know is that one week in October has been designated by a House Resolution as National Estate Planning Awareness Week (starts October 21st). Even Congress has recognized the need for the general public to understand the importance of planning ahead! What should you be considering if you don’t have an estate plan in place?
Let’s start by answering the question of WHY you should you have an estate plan.
The idea that the future is unknown is equal parts exciting and uncomfortable. We all know that we can best control our fate by planning ahead, that’s why we buy planners or keep our calendars organized. Having some control brings us peace of mind. This is exactly why you need an estate plan – an estate plan can provide significant peace of mind by ensuring your assets are protected, plans are in place in the event you become ill, and your property is passed down according to your wishes.
What topics should you consider?
- Do you have a last will and testament and/or a revocable living trust? If you answered no then you can rest assured that state law will determine who will inherit your property—and thus it may not occur in the way you would have chosen. In addition, someone appointed by the court, instead of a trusted person of your choosing, will be in charge of caring for any childrenor pets. Spelling out your wishes in a will or trust will also prevent unnecessary confusion, anxiety, and expense for other family members when you are gone.
- Have you prepared a financial power of attorney? A financial power of attorney will allow you to designate an individual to make financial and property decisions for you should you become unable to handle your own affairs. It’s important that you take control and choose this person ahead of time.
- Florida Designation of Healthcare Surrogate– have you had this prepared yet? Think of this as a medical power of attorney that enables you to designate a person you trust to make medical decisions for you when you are otherwise unable to speak for yourself.
- Make sure that you have an advanced directive, also called a living will, which memorializes your wishes concerning your end of life care, such as whether you would like to receive life support if you are in a vegative state, terminal condition or end stage condition.
- How about insurance?It’s a good idea to consider getting a life insurance policy, health insurance, disability insurance or long-term care. We would be happy to discuss the benefits of each with you.
- Consider compiling a list of all of your accounts and other important information, including bank and investment accounts, titles to vehicles and homes, credit card accounts or loans, digital accounts (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) and passwords, Social Security cards, passports and birth certificates. This information may be needed to manage your property when you are incapacitated or settle your estate once you are gone. Important to note: this information should be kept in a safe place and shared only with trusted family members or loved ones.
- Lastly, don’t forget to organize a list of legal, financial, and medical professionals who have performed services for you. Be sure to include their contact information so your family can easily reach them in the event their help is needed if you become disabled or pass away.
Consult an estate planning attorney.Our experienced estate planning attorney can help you create an estate plan that is tailored to meet each of your unique needs and carry out your wishes. Remember, we are here to offer both guidance and information about the options available to you.
Consider creating an estate plan in order to achieve the peace of mind that comes with knowing there are plans in place for your care. Call us today at 954-999-9683. to schedule your consultation – we are here to help.