February is the month of heart shaped chocolates and cards that express how your heart belongs/beats/flutters/etc. for your Valentine. Thus, it’s not necessarily an ideal time to be confronted with the grave reminder of how fleeting life can be, and the importance of planning for the unknown. However, for many, such planning is for the benefit of family and loved ones. Although we have little control over our fate, you can ensure that your loved ones are protected in the event of your own sickness or death. The following estate planning documents can be customized to ensure that your loved one’s are protected, not only in health, but also in sickness and death.
- Last Will & Testament – used to distribute property to beneficiaries (or a trust), specify last wishes, and name guardians for minor children. You can use a pour over will that funnels all of your property into the trust, to ensure greater asset protection for your loved ones.
- Living Trust – gain control, asset protection, & preclusion of unnecessary taxes; designate a trustworthy (no pun) Trustee. You can further provide that your assets continue in trust for the benefit of your loved ones, providing them greater protection from the claims of others.
- Durable Power of Attorney – gain control by designating someone to legally act on your behalf. There are many types of POA’s (“power of attorney”), but a “Durable” power of attorney means the power will be in effect even when you become incapacitated. Therefore, ensuring that any important business related decisions can be made in the event that you cannot make them yourself.
- Living Will & Designation of Healthcare Surrogate – make important healthcare decisions for yourself in advance. Determine who can access your health records and make medical decisions on your behalf.