Estate Process – Part #3 BRIAN J. EVANS, Special to The Standard
In this third part of the series on the Estate Process, we will start to outline some specific areas everyone should consider before it is too late. This series is meant to be a general explanation of estate issues and help you to generate an action list. Each person needs to seek counsel for their unique situations.
Having an up-to-date Will document, designed to accommodate your specific wishes, is extremely important. If you don’t have your own Will, you may be interested to know the Government has one prepared for you, but it might not be considerate of your wishes. You can actually have more than one Will to direct your estate. For instance, if you have ownership in a business or corporation, you might want a Will appointing someone with more specialized skills to help your estate deal with those assets. Your personal assets would be directed, according to your personal Will, by the executors you have chosen for that part of your estate.
You will also want to ensure you have your two Powers of Attorney in place; a power of attorney for property and a power of attorney for personal care. Many legal offices will help build the Will and POAs for both you and your spouse at a package price.
Be sure your chosen executors know where to find your estate information when needed and ensure their understanding of any special instructions.
Your estate documents should be reviewed at least every 5 to 7 years or if there is a material change in your life.
Keep it simple…uncomplicated is good!
FINAL INSTRUCTIONS There is nothing morbid about having your funeral and burial plans arranged. Having your burial plot purchased and a marker erected is being well prepared. As a final expression of love to your family, it would be comforting for them to know of your wishes for your memorial service and for those who might be involved. You can use life insurance or assigned assets to provide for these ‘final’ costs. Or, consider setting up a plan through your funeral home to prepay your funeral costs. The more decisions you have made beforehand, the easier it is for your loved ones, who just want to know what you desire for these arrangements.
HAVE YOUR TEAM OF PROFESSIONALS HELP DESIGN YOUR PLAN Estate Lawyers, Estate and Tax Accountants, along with Financial and Investment Planners are professionals who will assist you to plan and ensure your Will is executable and your estate assets are distributed in the most tax-efficient and appropriate manner. Let them help you establish a process that is best. They will also be available to your family for advice and assistance when it is needed most. It is imperative your estate trustees and family know how to contact these professionals for their help.
In the fourth part of our series on estates there will be more practical and specific steps you can take.