Many of my clients are reaching out to me to say how they are more confident than ever in the estate planning we did together. There is a more heightened sense of “do I have my affairs in order, is there anything else I should be doing in case I get sick or worse”.
Having a plan is more important than you think. Many people do not have the most basic estate plan which consists of a Last Will & Testament, Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy. This basic plan is essential for peace of mind especially when we are confronted with something as frightening as Covid-19. Of particular importance is the Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy.
Last Will & Testament
Your Last Will & Testament is basically a document informing your loved ones as to how you wish your assets are to be distributed upon your death. This document identifies your Personal Representative (formerly known as executor or executrix) and a successor Personal Representative should your initial choice for this role be unavailable to serve in that capacity. The Personal Representative is the one who either alone or with a professional that handles the administration of the estate which includes payment of debts and other expenses and distribution of assets pursuant to the terms of your Last Will & Testament.
In the case of families with minor children, it is critical that you identify your choice for Guardian of your minor children.
Power of Attorney
Everyone should have an updated power of attorney as one of their essential estate planning tools in the event they become incapacitated because of an illness or injury. With this document, you are appointing (selecting someone) to act on your behalf if, as a result of incapacity or illness, you are unable to manage your financial affairs including but not limited to authorizing your admission to a hospital, medical, nursing, mental health, residential or similar institutional facility, and to enter into agreements for your care;
Health Care Proxy
Another tool in the essential estate planning toolbox is the health care proxy. With this document you are giving your Health Care Agent the authority to make any and all health care decisions on your behalf, subject to any limitations that you state in this document, in the event that you should at some future time become incapable of making health care decisions for yourself.