Estate Planning is making sure things are in order before your death or if you are incapacitated. Usually, when you hear those words, you might think about who will inherit your car, or what money will be allocated to your children when you pass away. However, estate planning covers a lot more information than many people assume; in fact, it can be a little disorienting to work out all of the necessary details. Luckily, the attorneys at Kelly & West are happy to help you through the process and ensure that all of your plans are thorough and well-organized.
If you’ve already met with a Kelly & West attorney to discuss your estate planning, you probably encountered many topics that you hadn’t previously considered. If you haven’t completed your estate planning yet, here are eight things you may not think about until you have to deal with them!
1. Your Starting Point: It’s never too early to start the estate planning process! Of course, we all hope and expect to live until we are “old,” but it’s better to get started early in adulthood. While it can be an uncomfortable topic to consider, estate planning can be especially critical for the well-being of your family, friends, and of course, you!
2. A Living Will: This is also called A Desire for Natural Death or an advance directive. This document lets a person state his or her wishes for end-of-life medical care, such as life-support and feeding through tubes, in case they become unable to communicate their decisions for themselves. A living will has no power after death. Take some time to think about your wishes regarding life support before meeting with your attorney.
3. Digital Footprints: In this day and age, it’s essential to consider who you would like to have access to your digital belongings. This could include online banking, blogs, photo storage files, social media logins, and more. Make sure to put a plan in place for someone to access these things after you’re gone. Some password programs give you the option of choosing an emergency contact, such as a partner or spouse, for this reason.
4. Insurance Policies: One step in the estate planning process is determining what your assets are, which includes insurance policies. Auto, health, life, and homeowners’ policies should be reviewed to make sure that those assets pass to whom you would like to receive them after death. Most people don’t know it, but they actually are not controlled by the will but by beneficiary designation.
5. Identifying Assets: In addition to your insurance policies, you’ll need to define the rest of your assets. From real estate to valuable baseball card collections, make a list of these items.
6. Will, Trust, & Deed: A will, trust, and deed determine where those assets will go after their owner’s death. Each document has a slightly different purpose; a will determines inheritance allocation, a trust determines how and when that inheritance will be distributed, and a deed can determine who will receive real property.
7. Raising the Kids: While it can be a hard topic to talk about, estate planning helps parents prepare for worst-case scenarios. Your documents will include instructions regarding who will inherit guardianship of your children, should events require such a transition.
8. Edits: Life changes; your will should change, too. If time passes and you determine that you would like to disinherit an ex-spouse from your will, update your documents to include new assets, or change your Power of Attorney plans, edits can be made, and this is encouraged!
Estate planning allows you to relax knowing that your family, friends, and belongings will all be taken care of, even after you can’t be there to do it personally. To begin your estate planning process, talk to us.
Oliver and Sherrie M. – Car Accident
“We were hit head-on by someone who run a red light. I got bruised up real bad inside and I had just had shoulder surgery and it inflamed that. My wife was hurt the worst. It disfigured her right arm. We were referred to Mr. West through our son-in-law so we went up and set an appointment with him. We went in and met him for the first time and he is a very nice gentleman to say the least. He took over the case and found out who the [driver] was. It had totaled the car and I had just gotten it paid off. They didn’t even get hurt. Mr. West took the case and went way out of his way to help. The lady who hit us … they had only the cheapest insurance to get the car on the road … so he helped us get more money to help us pay the bills. We are very happy with how it turned out. Kelly and West, they’re good people. You can talk to them and they’re down home people.”