“Estate planning is not only important in directing the way that a person’s money and property are handled after death, but it also provides valuable information to loved ones to help seniors in their final years.”
Some people think that an estate plan is only needed by the wealthy. In reality, however, an estate isn’t only a grand mansion with a deer park and rolling hills. An estate describes all people and their possessions, including bank accounts, cars, real estate, stocks and bonds and jewelry.
Newsmax’s recent article, “7 Tips for Seniors to Get Their Estate Plans in Order,” says that without proper estate planning, all of the decisions and arrangements for your property distribution after death will be made by a probate judge pursuant to state law—not according to your own wishes. This often results in stress and conflict among family members. The article shares some specific tips for seniors to get their estate plans in order:
- Store personal and financial records in a safe place. Personal records are things like your name, date of birth, and Social Security number and employment records, as well as contact information for relatives and close friends. Financial records include banking and insurance information, liabilities, mortgages, deeds and estate planning documents.
- Tell family or trusted friends that you have records. In an emergency or death, people must know the location of this information. Just give them the location, not all the details of the records. An estate planning lawyer can help.
- Draft a will. This makes it much simpler to distribute the property in the estate and avoids strict oversight by the probate court. Detail how you want your assets distributed to family members, friends, or charities.
- Talk to your attorney about a living trust. Trust property goes directly to the heirs after death and avoids probate. A trust is also more difficult to challenge in court than a will. It should be created by an experienced and knowledgeable trust and estate lawyer.
- Designate a power of attorney. You may become incapacitated and unable to make financial decisions on your own. A power-of-attorney authorizes a trusted person to oversee these affairs, which avoids having a court-appointed person managing your financial affairs.
- Make your end-of-life and final arrangements. This includes a healthcare directive with your wishes about medical care and prolonged treatment, if you’re no longer able to make those decisions. A document on your final arrangements states your desires for the type of burial, body or organ donations and who you want to handle these arrangements.
Reference: Newsmax (May 2, 2017) “7 Tips for Seniors to Get Their Estate Plans in Order”