Coronavirus has been all over the news—and with good reason. Although most people are not likely to be in danger even if they come down with the coronavirus, it is a wake-up call to those who have been putting off creating or updating an estate plan. None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, so for your own peace-of-mind and the good of your loved ones, it is important to stop procrastinating.
There are several key documents an estate plan should include to protect you and your family if you should suddenly become very ill or pass away:
Will and/or a Trust
A will enables you to specify the individuals you would like to receive your money and property. In addition, you can name a guardian(s) to care for your children or other dependents if you are unable to do so and a conservator to handle their financial needs. For many, however, a will alone is not the best solution, as it is only effective after you pass away.
In a revocable living trust, you can name yourself as a trustee and continue to exercise control over the money and property you transfer to the trust. However, it also enables you to name a co-trustee or successor trustee who can manage your money and property for your benefit and the benefit of any other beneficiaries of the trust if you become too ill to do it yourself. In addition, your trust can specify when and how the funds should be distributed to your beneficiaries when you pass away. Further, if you have transferred all of your property into the trust, it will not have to go through the probate process—which can be expensive, time consuming, and open to any member of the public.
Power of Attorney
Using a power of attorney, you can name people you trust to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become ill and are unable to make them for yourself. Even if you are married, your spouse may not have the authority to make all of these types of decisions for you without the proper documentation.
Advance Health Care Directive/Living Will
Your advance health care directive, also known as a living will, is a document that clearly spells out your wishes for the end of your life, for example, whether or not you want to be placed on life support if you are in a vegetative state or have a terminal condition. This important document allows your family and health care providers to understand your wishes even if you are no longer able to communicate them.
Give Us a Call
Certain situations can bring our own mortality to the forefront of our minds, even if they are unlikely to have a severe or direct effect on us. The coronavirus provides an important reminder of just how important it is, not only to us, but also to our family members and loved ones, to have an estate plan in place in case the unexpected happens. Our foremost goal is to help you have confidence that if you become ill, your own care and the needs of your family will be addressed. Call us a call today at (805) 518-9633 to set up a virtual meeting.