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Practical Considerations when developing your Estate Plan
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At death, financial accounts are essentially frozen. This may make it difficult for heirs to pay current bills as well as final expenses until the assets are transferred to survivors.

Consider:

  • Pre-paying funeral expenses
  • Maintain a bank account titled "Joint With Rights of Survivorship” with someone you trust to handle your affairs—married couples may want a third party on this account in case something happens to them both
  • Leaving some cash where someone can find it
  • Titling at least one account as a "Transfer” or "Payable on Death”—it can still take some time to get the assets retitled… but not the time probate requires.

Make sure that survivors know your wishes. If you wanted to be cremated, but no one knew nor could they locate your Will… you may be buried instead. Imagine how they will feel once the Will is discovered?

Make sure survivors know where to find Estate Planning documents. They already have a lot to deal with.

Be organized. Survivors need to know where to find things like account statements, titles to property, tax returns, life insurance policies, keys to safe deposit boxes, etc.

NOTE: If you are hiding assets… whether in the ground, a secret safe deposit box, etc. Chances are no one will EVER find it. Make sure someone knows… hopefully they out live you.

Health Care Power of Attorney Don’t assume your chosen agent knows what you want. Go through the document line-by-line and explain what care you want under various circumstances.

A Health Care Power of Attorney does not act as a "Do Not Resuscitate” Order.

"Do Not Resuscitate" Orders apply to restarting your heart.  All caregivers should be familiar with your wishes and know where the DNR is located.  Emergency Medical professionals are required to resuscitate unless they see those orders. They won’t have time to call your doctor and they won’t wait for you to find them. The elderly and those in hospice should post the Order in prominent, visible places so that it will be seen immediately. If someone is unable to sign a DNR, the agent of your Health Care Power of Attorney can sign in lieu.

In some states a DNR will also serve as a "Do Not Intubate" Order which means they won't help you breathe artificially.  In other states you will need a separate DNI.

Organ Donor.  Most people indicate their wish to donate organs on their driver’s license. Since the family can override your wishes and your driver’s license may not be handy, register your status as a donor

If you have a lot of stuff, junk or treasure, find a new home for it. Sell it to "American Pickers”, give stuff to people who will appreciate it, throw it away, whatever. Survivors don’t want to spend the rest of their lives sorting through yours.

 

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