“I think holidays create so much pressure because people feel they should be having a good time. But you shouldn’t.”
We’re well into the most wonderful time of the year. If you having just too good a time, allow me to make a very necessary and somewhat buzz-killing suggestion. If you’re likely to be surrounded by loved ones, then this actual face time ― as opposed to an app with the same name ― is the chance to discuss estate planning with them. Pour yourself an eggnog, grab a nosh and take the documents listed below to your relative’s study to discuss how you’d like them included in your future plans. Nothing says “I love you and I am so happy to be with you in this festive season” like giving your relatives the ability to unplug you.
Advance Health Care Directive
Also known as a “living will,” the Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) is the vital document that you’ll need to address your care. The living will can address following concepts when considering end-of-life scenarios:
- How to handle care if close relatives are not immediately available or deceased
- Naming and recognizing a partner to whom you’re not legally wed
- Identifying whom you do not want involved in your care
The AHCD also provides instructions for your biological remains after you pass. This includes things like how your body will be disposed ― like a cremation or burial ― organ donation and the preferences for a funeral or memorial service.
Entering your information in a centralized system is a smart move because it provides medical professionals quick access to your health care instructions. Some states have databases, or registries where you can file your AHCD, and a national one exists as well.
Power of Attorney
Many youths of the 1990s first heard the phrase “power of attorney” in “Rocky V,” as it was the quick explanation of the Balboa family’s bankruptcy. But those people are adults now and shouldn’t avoid power of attorney discussions the way they do “Rocky V” on cable.
Almost as important as the AHCD, power of attorney determines how your assets are managed when you cannot manage them further. It grants authority to someone to manage scenarios like the power to create an irrevocable trust and how to make property gifts if you are incapacitated. Without power of attorney, you limit the options available to you and those responsible for your well being.
Will and Revocable Living Trusts
As we discussed earlier this year, a will is the basic document on which your estate plan is drawn. After you’ve departed, it specifies:
- What you have
- Who you want to receive it
- How you want your property distributed
A revocable living trust (RLT) also establishes who will inherit property when you die but can also be used by you, the Grantor, to manage assets while you still draw breath. The RLT helps avoid probate and keeps your finances private. It is created while you, the Grantor, are alive and can be amended as often as you’d like.
People, property and assets will come and go in your lifetime, just as the need for protections will change. If there’s someone you’d like to include in your estate plan and in the aforementioned documents, talk to him or her between gift exchanges and meals.
Brinen & Associates has deep experience in handling estate plans for individual clients and business owners. Feel free to contact us with any questions.