6 Estate Planning Steps for Families
Based on our experience, we think others should take these six steps to ensure their family knows their wishes and plans when they die or become mentally or physically incapacitated:
1. Organize your emergency information.
This is more than a list of doctors and phone numbers. It should include specifics about your digital assets, bank accounts, storage rental, lawyers and financial advisers. Doing so will save your loved ones additional stress during an already stressful time and can be critical for quick decision-making.
2. Draw up a will and maybe trusts, too.
Meet with an estate attorney who can give you guidance and create the proper documents. Make sure everything is as clear as possible and easily understood so there will be no questions about what you really meant.
3. Designate a durable power of attorney.
This allows the person you designate to make legal decisions if you’re incapacitated. Provide as much detail as possible, including safe deposit boxes and passwords to online accounts. Without power of attorney, the courts or a third-party designated by the courts will wind up making legal decisions.
4. Prepare an advance medical directive.
This document will save family members from having to make end-of-life decisions for you.
5. Open frank conversations with your parents about their financial affairs sooner rather than later.
6. Tell your grown children your plans.
They probably assume you have been smart with your money. Prove them right. Then teach them to put their affairs in order, too.
A Final Piece of Advice
Putting your affairs in order is not about death. It’s about making sure things get done your way and the way. It is one of the most important financial and lifestyle decisions of your life. It’s about writing the last chapter of your amazing legacy.
In 2007, God got Fred’s attention by almost taking his life due to a disease called Ulcerative Colitis, which resulted in a botched surgery and ruptured intestine. After that near-death experience, 6 surgeries and 8 months off work, Fred decided to completely change his law practice to an area where he could truly help people. He left the stressful pace of litigation and went to work for a small boutique firm that focused on Estate Planning and Elder Law in El Paso, Texas.
Haiman Hogue, PLLC 214-618-3160