A lot of people reduce estate planning to the simple act of drawing up a will. In reality, in most cases, a living trust will be a better choice on many different levels. This is a subject that we will address at a different time, but there are some additional documents that are needed.
Letter of Last Instruction
You are recording your wishes about the way that you want your assets to be distributed after you pass away when you create a will or trust. This is not the long and short of it because the executor or trustee will need information to be able to complete the administration tasks. You can share it in a letter of last instruction.
It should include the names and contact information of individuals that should be notified about your passing. In addition to professionals that will play a role like your life insurance agent, funeral director, attorney, and accountant, personal contacts can be notified as well.
The letter should include the location of all physical property, storage units, etc. You need to point the administrator toward the relevant hardcopy documents, and you should provide login information for accounts that you manage online.
These are the obvious matters that must be addressed, and you can simply ask yourself what they will need to know and pass the information along in the letter.
Pour Over Will
If you have a living trust, you may not convey all of your property into it while you are living for one reason or another. To account for this factor, you should include a pour over will in your estate plan. This document will facilitate the transfer of the property into the trust.
Living Will and Durable Powers of Attorney
A properly constructed estate plan will address eventualities that you may face toward the end of your life. Incapacity is not uncommon among elders, and people of all ages become unable to communicate due to severe medical conditions.
You can account for medical decisions in documents called advance directives for health care. A living will is a device that is used to record your life support preferences in a legally binding manner.
Your plan should also include a durable power of attorney for health care to empower someone to make medical decisions for you that are not related to life-support. A HIPAA release should be added to give your health care agent the legal right to access your medical information.
If you have a living trust, you can name a disability trustee to act as the trustee if you become incapacitated. To account for the management of property that is not held by a trust, you should name an attorney-in-fact in a durable power of attorney for property.
Getting back to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act release, the patient privacy protections extend to all adults. This means that your 18-year-old child would be protected, so their doctors would not be able to share their medical information with you.
Imagine getting a call from your daughter’s friend when she is away at college. She got into an accident, and she’s unconscious. If you call the hospital, the doctors would not be able to speak with you about your condition.
For this reason, you should make sure that your young adult children execute HIPAA releases to give you access.
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We have looked at some documents that are sometimes overlooked in this post, and there is another element. A living trust is a viable alternative to a simple will, but it is not the only type of trust that can be utilized.
Each situation is different, and the ideal way to proceed will depend on the circumstances. Personalized attention is the key to a properly constructed plan, and this is what you will receive when you choose our firm.
You can schedule a consultation at our Memphis, TN estate planning office if you call us at 901-763-2500 or 866-997-6325. If you would rather send us a message, fill out our contact form and we will get back in touch with you promptly.