Learn The Basics of Estate Planning
Many adults don't start thinking about estate planning until their later years, but everyone can benefit from preparing these documents early. If you don't take the time for estate planning, state law and a judge will step in to handle your estate should anything happen to you. While you're alive and of sound mind, you can take control over your family's future by speaking with an adviser about estate planning.
Not sure where to start? BMI Federal Credit Union will host an estate planning workshop for members at 10 a.m. Dec. 19. You can register for it here. Geoff Kunkler, an associate attorney with Carlile Patchen & Murphy LLP, will lead the session. The workshop will be at the Dublin office located at 6165 Emerald Parkway, Dublin. Use the following outline to familiarize yourself with the steps to create an effective estate plan.
Select Your Agent
Depending on what your estate plan is going to consist of, you'll need to designate a person to act on your behalf. Get this individual's consent first so they're aware of their duties and obligations. For purposes of convenience, you might want that person to be your agent, executor or successor trustee in all of your estate documents. Designate a successor to that person too, in case he or she is unable to act.
List Your Assets
Make a list of all significant assets you own, and place evidence of your assets — insurance policies, deeds, bank and retirement account information — in one location. A safe deposit box at BMI Federal Credit Union can be helpful for this. Be sure to include all necessary website usernames and passwords. You should also make sure all named beneficiaries are updated. Advise your agent of where everything is, including the safe deposit box key.
Decide on a Will, Trust or Both
A will is most likely going to be probated in court after your death. There's no privacy because everything you own is going to be inventoried and made part of the court's file. A proper revocable living trust won't go to probate, so confidentiality is maintained. It also allows your estate to be distributed immediately after your death. If you prefer a revocable living trust, you'll want to look into a pour-over will. When creating wills or trusts, we recommend working with an estate planning attorney. If not properly drafted or executed, your plans could become void.
Look Into a Living Will
A living will is an advance directive instructing your physicians that if your death is imminent, they're only to give you comfort care and sustenance rather than keeping you on life support. It need only be signed and dated by you when in sound mind with two witnesses who are not heirs.
Declare Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney allows your agent to attend to your personal matters if you become incapacitated, but it doesn't permit him or her to make health care decisions for you. That's the purpose of a health care power of attorney. A durable power of attorney might contain health care provisions in it, but you'll likely need both to be fully covered.
Give these ideas some thought, and come to our workshop on Dec. 19 to learn more and get answers to any questions you might have.