“E” is for “Estate planning. This is the most dry part of legacy planning but it has to be done. Estate planning can be simple or complex depending on the size of the estate you are leaving to your loved ones. No estate is too small to be considered for this part.
Here are some vital documents that would be included in an estate plan.
- Wills and Trusts. These documents are vital for any size estate. They help you tell your family how you want your things distributed, whether this is money, houses, cars, or jewelry. This way you can avoid any fights that may occur over anything you leave behind!
- Durable Power of Attorney. This is just a fancy paper that gives someone else permission to take over your financial responsibilities if you become incapacitated or you feel you can no longer take care of them yourself. Maybe you don’t even want to! This would be someone you trust to take care of you and your money. You can choose what they are allowed and not allowed to do with the power. You can discuss that with an estate attorney.
- Beneficiary Designations. These are important! They should be reviewed every year! Why? These beneficiary designations bypass (move outside) the will. These are people usually named on insurance policies and qualified accounts, such as IRA’s or 401k’s to name a few. You want to make sure you have the right beneficiary or else someone could inherit your money that you don’t want to! For example, if you get divorced and your 401k at work still has your ex-spouse as beneficiary but you have remarried. If you pass, your ex-spouse is still entitled to the money as the beneficiary document bypasses the will so be diligent in this! Your financial advisor can help you review these beneficiaries.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney. This document is important and should be someone (typically a family member) who you trust but more importantly who knows you well enough to know what you would want done in any life threatening situation. This person will have ultimate control if you are incapacitated. This is probably the most difficult power to have.
- Guardianship Designations. This is important if you have young children. If anything should happen to your and/or your spouse, your children will need a loving home to go to. This designation is critical so your children don’t end up in foster care with the potential of not only losing you but each other!