Clearly, you have to state your wishes in writing, but there are some finer details that must be attended to as well, and we will look at three of them here.
Letter of Final Instructions
You would never ask someone to complete a task for you without giving them the information that they will need to do the job. This dynamic should certainly be applied to the estate planning process.
After your passing, someone will have to take action to bring your wishes to fruition. If you are using a will to facilitate asset transfers, it would be the executor, and a trust is administered by a trustee.
The administrator will need practical information to complete the necessary tasks, and you can provide it in a letter of final instructions.
There are no rules, and the document would not be legally binding. You just ask yourself what the executor will need to know and pass the information along.
For example, they should have the contact information for people that should be notified about your passing. Login information for the financial accounts that you handle online should be shared along with the location of relevant hard copy documents.
Keys and access codes would be part of the equation, and the administrator should be made aware of any final arrangements that you have made in advance.
When you fill out life insurance forms and the paperwork for individual retirement accounts and payable on death accounts, you name a beneficiary, or multiple beneficiaries. In some cases, you can stipulate a percentage that would go to each respective beneficiary.
If you have not looked at any of these documents in many years, the designations may not be consistent with your current wishes. Plus, you should make sure that you have successor beneficiaries named, and this is a detail that many people overlook.
Advance Directives for Health Care
Your plan should go beyond the purely monetary part of the equation. Though it is not a very pleasant thing to think about, you may become unable to communicate medical decisions during the final stage of your life.
To account for this, your estate plan should include advance directives for health care.
Situations can arise that are not related to the use of life-support when you are not capable of communicating your decisions. You can name a representative to act on your behalf under these circumstances in a durable power of attorney.
However, physicians would not be able to communicate with your agent unless you include a HIPAA release. This acronym stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that was enacted to protect patient privacy.
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To get your copy, visit our estate planning worksheet page and follow the simple instructions.
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