Every year, Veteran’s Day is held to commemorate the sacrifices of U.S veterans. Veteran’s Day takes place on November 11th, and we’re able to honor the men and women who defended our country in armed conflicts. This holiday replaced Armistice Day in the 1950s and, ever 1954, it has been a sacred time of remembrance.
Veteran’s Day honors the men and women who have made a difference in our lives with their bravery. How are you making a difference in your own life? Contact WFP and consult an estate planning attorney to get your must-have documents in place. A comprehensive estate plan improves your sense of security and peace of mind.
In this article, we’ll discuss some must-haves for estate planning, including: beneficiary designations, letter of intent, durable power of attorney, wills, trusts, healthcare power of attorney, and guardianship designations.
There are different assets that can pass to your heirs without you having to dictate them in the will (i.e. 401(k) plan assets). For this reason, it’s important to maintain both a beneficiary and contingent beneficiary on these accounts. Insurance plans, for example, should have a beneficiary and a contingent beneficiary, in the event that the assets pass outside of the will.
Letter of Intent
A letter of intent is a document that you leave to your executor or beneficiary. The letter of intent defines what you want done with your assets after you die or if you are incapacitated. Other letters of intent contain special requests and funeral details. Though letters of intent are not legally binding, they’re informative of your intentions and can have an impact in probate court.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is someone assigned to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so. If you don’t have a durable POA, a court might decide what happens to your assets in the event you’re found incompetent. That decision, in turn, might not comport with your views.
A last will and testament is a finale expression of what you want to happen with your assets when you die. Wills and testaments have to be written according to the legal rules of the state in which you live; otherwise, they will not be legally enforceable and could be challenged in probate court, where they have to be authenticated.
Trusts are a three-party fiduciary relationship. You, the grantor, transfer title of an asset to a trustee. The trustee, a secondary party, holds the title until you want the beneficiary, the third party, to have it. For example, a beneficiary might get title after you die. Often, trusts are vaunted above other estate planning documents because they don’t require you to go through probate court.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
Much like a durable power of attorney, a healthcare power of attorney makes decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so (if you fall into a coma, for example). The healthcare POA’s decision-making arena involves medical decisions, and they will uphold your wishes for your healthcare, even if you can’t voice them yourself.
If you have small children, it’s important to include guardianship designations in your estate plan. This paperwork will ensure that your kids have a legal guardian if something happens to you and your spouse. Talk with your proposed guardian before filing a designation to make sure that he or she is on board with this major responsibility.
If this all sounds confusing, don’t worry. Estate planning can be complicated, but, if you have an attorney to help you, it will make more sense. You’ll be able to complete your estate plan efficiently and thoroughly with the help of an estate planning attorney.