A lot of people think that estate planning boils down to the creation of a simple will. This is actually a shortsighted perspective, and in fact, a trust can be a better choice than a will in many instances.
We will look at the trust versus will question in another post, but in this one, we will highlight some important estate planning details that often are overlooked.
Instructions for the Administrator
You should put yourself into the position of the executor or trustee when you are planning your estate. It is easy to put your final wishes in writing, but the person that you choose to act as the administrator must handle the tasks that must be completed to bring your wishes to fruition.
They are going to need certain information that you and you alone can provide, and you can share it in a letter of final instructions.
The names and contact information for the people that should be notified about your passing should be provided, and you should pass along the location of important documents.
Simple but essential hand-to-mouth information like the location of keys to vehicles, storage spaces, and property should be shared in the letter.
In addition to the hard copy documents, the administrator will be dealing with the accounts that you manage online, so you should pass along the login information. The same thing applies to social media accounts, websites, and blogs.
Your letter can include your specific wishes with regard to your funeral and burial or cremation. If you have made arrangements in advance, you should certainly provide all the details.
These are some of the obvious pieces of information that the administrator will need, but there are no specific rules. You should simply ask yourself what the individual will need to know and take the time to record all relevant info.
Advance Directives for Health Care
A properly constructed estate plan will address end-of-life issues, and this can be done through the utilization of documents called advance directives for health care.
One of them is a living will. You can state your life-support preferences in this directive, and you can add organ and tissue donation and comfort care medication choices.
Another directive that should be part of the plan is a health care proxy. The agent that is named in the document would be empowered to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make them yourself. These would be situations that are not specifically related to life-support.
Because of a provision contained within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), medical professionals must keep health care information confidential. You should include a HIPAA release to give your agent the ability to speak freely with your physicians.
Life insurance policies, individual retirement accounts, and other types of financial accounts have beneficiary designations. If you filled out the forms many years ago, you may not accurately remember the decisions you made.
You should make sure that they are up-to-date at all times. Another detail that is often overlooked is the inclusion of successor beneficiaries.
You can include your pet in your estate plan if there is a chance that you will predecease your fine furry friend. A pet trust can be established, and you can leave specific instructions for the trustee with regard to the way the pet should be cared for after you are gone.
In the trust declaration, you can name a successor beneficiary that would assume ownership of any assets that remain in the trust after the passing of the pet.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
You can be absolutely certain that you are not overlooking any details if you work with an attorney from our firm to develop your estate plan. If you are ready to get started, you can schedule a consultation appointment if you give us a call at 585-374-5210.
We also have a contact form on this site you can use to send us a message, and if you reach out electronically, you can expect to receive a prompt response.