An Estate Planning Attorney’s Guide to Getting Your Affairs in Order
Death is a part of life. While it is not a topic that anyone enjoys thinking about, it is important to have your affairs in order when the time comes. The “unexpected” is named so for a reason and it is necessary to be prepared. If you are not sure where to start, we are here to help. Below is an estate planning guide that details a list of items that need to be taken care of to make sure your final wishes are met:
Get your Finances in Order
Make sure all bank accounts have direct beneficiaries. The beneficiary need only go to the bank with your death certificate and an ID of their own.
Complete a Transfer On Death Deed if you Own a Home
Also known as a TOD, this document allows you to transfer ownership of your home to your designee. Completing this document and filing it with your parish or county will save your heirs THOUSANDS. All they need to do is take their ID and your death certificate to the parish or county building and the deed is signed over. Doing this will also avoid the home having to go through probate.
Write a Living Will
A Living Will allows you to put in writing exactly what you want to be done in the event you cannot speak for yourself when it comes to healthcare decisions.
Designate a Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney is someone you designate to make legal decisions on your behalf if you are no longer competent to do so.
Designate a Power of Attorney for Healthcare
This document allows one to designate someone to make healthcare decisions for their person.
Write a Last Will and Testament
This document designates to whom personal belongings will go too.
Funeral Planning Declaration
This allows you to say your exact wishes as far as the disposition of the body and the services.
If the above documents are completed, your loved ones can AVOID probate and the entire process will be a little easier for all involved. If all the above is not completed, they will have to open an estate account at the bank. All of the money that does not have direct beneficiaries goes into this account. They will then need to hire an attorney to open the estate account. The attorney also has to publicize your passing in the newspaper or post publication at the county courthouse, to allow anyone to make a claim on your property–it is a complete PAIN.
- Make a list of all banks and account numbers, all investment institutions with account numbers, all cryptocurrency holdings and how to access them, all credit cards, utility accounts, etc. Leave clear instructions as to how and when these things are paid.
- Make sure your heirs know where your life insurance policies are located.
- Make 100% sure SOMEONE knows your Apple ID, bank ID account logins, and passwords!
- Make sure you have titles for all vehicles, boats, campers, etc!
Speak with those closest to you and make all of your final wishes KNOWN. Talk to those whom you’ve designated, as well as those close to you whom you did not designate. Do this to explain why your decisions were made and to avoid any lingering questions or hurt feelings.
As Estate Planning Attorneys, we know this isn’t a pleasant topic to plan or speak to your loved ones about. But having your affairs in order will make things a little easier for those we all leave behind. We hope that the above list at least helps you start the conversation. If you need further assistance, we are here to help.