Dec 3, 2013 Stop Procrastinating! Essential Estate Planning Documents Everyone Needs
It’s 4:00 p.m. at work and you’ve been super productive to this point. You look down at your “To-Do” List and admire all the things crossed off and you’re immediately filled with the great feeling of accomplishment. Then, your attention is drawn to that one remaining item. The item that has been there for what seems like forever. The item that just will not go away. Those feelings of success are suddenly overtaken by the negative emotions of dread and hate. Your immediate reaction and decision is to put the remaining item on the back burner and handle it at a more convenient time. Unfortunately, you know deep down that such a time does not exist.
We’ve all experienced this before. Maybe it’s cleaning out those gutters that your wife has been asking you to clean for the past few weeks. Perhaps it’s putting together that baby book for your now 16 year old son. Procrastination affects us all.
One of the most commonly procrastinated items on our “To-Do” List is getting our estate plans in order. Maybe you keep putting it off because you don’t know where to start. Maybe you just don’t like thinking about your ultimate demise. I can’t do much about when or how you will die, but I can help in getting your estate plan started. The following is a list of the essential estate planning documents every household should have:
Last Will and Testament
The Last Will and Testament is a legal document which details to whom your assets will be distributed, and designates an individual who will manage your assets at your death.
In addition, if you have minor children it can designate an appropriate guardian for those children in the event you pass away prior to your children reaching the age of maturity.
Failing to execute a Last Will and Testament does not mean you are forfeiting your assets, or that your minor children will become wards of the state. However, it does mean your ability to designate where your assets go and who takes care of your minor children is lost. For instance, if you want your most prized possession, a 1972 Volkswagen Bus, to go to your youngest son, your Last Will and Testament will need to specify this. Otherwise, your most prized possession will need to be sold and the proceeds equally divided among your children.
To ensure this scenario never plays out and your hard earned assets go where you want them to go, a Last Will and Testament is a must.
Durable Power of Attorney
The Durable Power of Attorney grants your, “Agent” or “Attorney-in-Fact” the authority to act in your name. Depending on the authority granted in the Durable Power of Attorney your Agent can make financial or health care decisions for you immediately or upon your disability.
This power is imperative in the event you do become incapacitated and you need someone to handle your affairs during that time. Failure to execute a Durable Power of Attorney will require your family to seek a guardianship on your behalf, which is far more time consuming and costly than executing a Durable Power of Attorney right now.
Advanced Health Care Directive
This document is often times referred to as a “Living Will.” It details specific medical treatment you either want or don’t want in the event you are in a permanently vegetative state.
An Advanced Health Care Directive is important because it takes the difficult decision of what life sustaining treatment to pursue out of your family’s hands and into yours. Too many children stress over what medical treatment to provide their parents towards the end of their lives. This legal document makes that difficult decision that much easier.
The Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney, and Advanced Health Care Directive are essential estate planning documents everyone should have regardless of their circumstances. That’s not to say additional estate planning would not be beneficial. A revocable or irrevocable trust or other estate planning tools may be important depending on your situation and what you want to do with your assets. Therefore, when consulting with your attorney about the essential estate planning documents ask your attorney if additional measures need to be taken.
Stop procrastinating and get that estate planning item crossed off your list. Not only will it give you a huge sense of accomplishment, but it will provide you with the much needed peace of mind that comes with knowing your affairs are in order.
The opinions expressed in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Leonard Rickey Investment Advisors, P.L.L.C, a registered investment advisor and separate entity from LPL Financial. Leonard Rickey Investment Advisors, P.L.L.C., is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, we recommend you see a licensed attorney to answer any legal questions you may have.
Leonard Rickey Investment Advisors, PLLC (“LRIA”), is an SEC registered investment adviser located in the State of Washington. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. For information pertaining to the registration status of LRIA, please contact LRIA or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov).
This is provided for general information only and contains information that is not suitable for everyone. As such, nothing herein should be construed as the provision of specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. There is no guarantee that the views and opinions expressed herein will come to pass. This newsletter contains information derived from third party sources. Although we believe these third-party sources to be reliable, we make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party incorporated herein and take no responsibility therefore.
Any projections, forecasts and estimates, including without limitation any statement using “expect” or “believe” or any variation of either term or a similar term, contained here are forward-looking statements and are based upon certain current assumptions, beliefs and expectations that LRIA considers reasonable or that the applicable third parties have identified as such. Forward-looking statements are necessarily speculative in nature, and it can be expected that some or all of the assumptions or beliefs underlying the forward-looking statements will not materialize or will vary significantly from actual results or outcomes. Some important factors that could cause actual results or outcomes to differ materially from those in any forward-looking statements include, among others, changes in interest rates and general economic conditions in the U.S. and globally, changes in the liquidity available in the market, change and volatility in the value of the U.S. dollar, market volatility and distressed credit markets, and other market, financial or legal uncertainties. Consequently, the inclusion of forward-looking statements herein should not be regarded as a representation by LRIA or any other person or entity of the outcomes or results that will be achieved by following any recommendations contained herein. While the forward-looking statements here reflect estimates, expectations and beliefs, they are not guarantees of future performance or outcomes. LRIA has no obligation to update or otherwise revise any forward-looking statements, including any revisions to reflect changes in economic conditions or other circumstances arising after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of events (whether anticipated or unanticipated), even if the underlying assumptions do not come to fruition. Opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice and do not necessarily take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situations, or particular needs of all investors.
For additional information about LRIA, including fees and services, please contact us for our Form ADV disclosure brochure using our contact information herein. Please read the disclosure brochure carefully before you invest or send money.