It’s understandable if you’re tempted to stall on your estate plans. After all, there are tough life and death questions to face. But planning for your loved ones’ financial well-being and your own health care can actually provide much-needed peace of mind. Foster Friedman, partner at Wade, Grimes, Friedman, Meinken & Leischner PLLC., shares tips to help you with this important process.
Establish a Power of Attorney
Should you be unable to manage your finances on your own, you want to know that everything – and everyone – will be taken care of in the way you had in mind. Every adult should appoint an agent under a power of attorney to manage their personal affairs during incapacity. Your agent should be someone you not only trust but believe has the financial knowledge to do the job. It’s also best if you discuss your wishes with the person you select in order to ensure everything is carried out the way you intended.
Create a Living Will
Drafting and implementing a healthcare directive will relieve your loved ones of the pressure of making some very hard decisions. You also need to implement a healthcare power of attorney to provide certainty as to who will be making those decisions regarding your wishes for any life-prolonging treatments or palliative care. Your agent is responsible for determining who will provide your care and the type of care and treatment you will receive.
Create a Last Will & Testament
While you may have an idea of where assets should go and who would raise your kids should something happen, it’s vital to memorialize those wishes in your will. Without a legally valid will, these very personal decisions will be resolved by the laws of intestate succession created by the state legislature. The result will likely be completely at odds with your wishes regarding your valuable assets. Drafting your will with an attorney will also include designating an executor. This person, or institution, will be responsible for managing your estate and following all instructions left for them. If you do not name an executor, state law allows anyone – even your creditors – to appear before the Court and qualify to take control of your assets.
Consider a Trust
Consider setting up a trust in order to determine how and when assets will be allocated to your beneficiaries. Trusts can also allow your loved ones to bypass probate court when distributing assets, provide tax benefits, and even set boundaries for how assets are meant to be used.
Store and Update As Needed
Once everything is written up and made official, it’s important to organize your documents in a way that not only makes sense to you, but to your friends and family. Remember to update your will as life presents new challenges or changes, making sure to leave the most up-to-date instructions for those in charge of executing your wishes.
To offer your family peace of mind, it’s best to start the estate planning process now. While estate planning is contingent on you and your vision, it is not usually something you want to tackle alone. Foster Friedman of Wade, Grimes, Friedman, Meinken & Leischner PLLC. is ready to walk alongside you to help you figure out the best plan for you and your family.
Foster Friedman is a partner at Wade Grimes Friedman Meinken & Leischner PLLC, concentrating on planning and controversy matters involving estates and trusts. Friedman has been named 2021 Super Lawyer for Northern Virginia, a 2021 Best Lawyer in America by U.S. News & World Report, and AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell.
Whether you are facing a family law, protective order, estate planning, bankruptcy and/or criminal-law-related issue, Wade Grimes Friedman Meinken & Leischner PLLC is here for you during challenging times.