“If you have children or are planning to have children, you are probably like most people and have never written down who should be their legal guardian, in case something tragic happens to you.”
With the busy schedule of an active family, you probably never thought of what would happen to you or your kids if you became incapacitated, such as falling into a coma.
The Brooklyn Reporter recently published an article, “Top 3 estate planning tips for New Yorkers,” that asks about the passwords to your bank accounts—are they kept where someone in the family can access them, if you’re unable to communicate?
Estate planning can protect your family in the worst-case scenario, so you don’t leave your finances and your family’s well-being in doubt.
Consider these three essential tips to follow when it comes to estate planning:
- Draft a Will. Pronto! Your last will and testament will allow you to control exactly what should be done with your assets, who should be the legal guardian of your minor children and who will be designated as the administrator of your estate to ensure that your final wishes are followed. Visit a trusts and estates attorney, not a general practitioner lawyer (one who works in several different areas of law). An experienced estate planning lawyer will understand the nuances involved with probate law. Failing to understand these issues, could mean unexpected consequences for your family after you’re gone. Talk to a lawyer whose practice area is focused on drafting wills and estate planning.
- Sign a Living Will and Power of Attorney. A living will (also called an advance directive) will let your healthcare providers and loved ones know of your wishes, when it comes to such critical matters as resuscitation, life-prolonging measures and palliative care if you’re unable to communicate those wishes for yourself. A living will lets you make this choice, rather than burdening your family at a stressful time. A power of attorney allows you to designate someone with the responsibility of overseeing your day to day issues.
- Speak to an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney. You don’t watch a video to fill a molar, do you? No, you speak with an individual who is professionally trained and experienced to work on your tooth. Similarly, there are no shortcuts for drafting a legally binding will. You can write a will online, but you should meet with an actual lawyer in person. Find a lawyer who knows your state laws for trusts and estates. When making end-of-life decisions, go with someone you trust. That’s not a feeling you’re going to get from a website. One visit with a lawyer in her office will save your beneficiaries and family hours of stress and conflict in a very difficult time.
Reference: Brooklyn Reporter (May 9, 2017) “Top 3 estate planning tips for New Yorkers”