According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone in the U.S. has a heart attack every 40 seconds. That means approximately 790,000 people have a heart attack each year. If you have recently been hospitalized for a cardiac condition or other near-miss medical event, then you may be feeling a strong sense of urgency to get your estate planning done to protect your family, your business, and your legacy. Act on that feeling before you go back to your routine. Here’s how.
1. Draft a Will and Trust
Dying without a will can leave behind quite the mess for your family and will require a lengthy process involving the courts to administer your estate. Having a properly executed will cannot only simplify the process but will ensure that you have control over where your assets go. Some people wrongly believe that wills and trusts are just for wealthy individuals. We all have things that are valuable to ourselves and others. In addition to distributing assets, wills are also necessary to appoint a legal guardian for minor children.
Depending on your circumstances, you may also benefit from a trust. A trust allows you to dictate who receives your assets and when. It also has the added benefit of allowing someone else to manage your assets during your lifetime if you are unable to, without court intervention. Since a trust can take many different forms, it is best to consult with your estate planning attorney to determine how best to structure your trust.
2. Complete Advance Directives
A complete advance directives package gives you control over your end-of-life care. Designate a healthcare power of attorney to make medical decisions if you are unable. Complete a living will to address specific end-of-life decisions like life-sustaining measures. Lastly, appoint a financial power of attorney to handle financial matters in the event you are unable. Without these important documents, your family may be forced to go to court in order to have someone appointed to make these decisions for you.
3. Get Organized
Collect and organize important documents and account information by making copies of all essential documents and identifying any account information. Having all of this information in one centralized place will not only help you to get organized, but will also ensure you have all pertinent information easily accessible the people handling your affairs. Suggested information may include:
- social security card
- birth certificate
- marriage certificate
- titles or deed to real estate
- car titles
- insurance policy information (health, life, disability)
- pension or retirement accounts
- utility accounts
- digital accounts (email, social media, online investments, Amazon, PayPal, eBay)
Do not let that sense of urgency fade away. Before that moment passes, take the time to get your estate planning in order and save yourself and loved ones the stress that comes from being unprepared. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us or give us a call.