The Legacy Planning Series: Incapacity and Organization - Laying the Foundation for a Secure Future
Planning for the future can be both exciting and overwhelming, especially when it involves your legacy and the well-being of your loved ones. To help you navigate the complexities of estate planning, asset distribution, and tax implications, we've created a comprehensive Legacy Planning Series. Our goal is to provide you with practical advice and useful tips to make informed decisions.
In this installment of our four-part series, we'll discuss the importance of planning for incapacity and getting organized. By taking these crucial steps, you'll lay a solid foundation for a robust and comprehensive legacy plan that ensures your loved ones are protected and your assets are preserved according to your wishes.
Step 1: Planning for Incapacity
Many people overlook the importance of planning for potential medical incapacitation, but doing so can have dire consequences for your family and assets. Establishing a plan in case of incapacitation is a vital part of legacy planning, which typically involves creating a durable power of attorney (POA), living trust, and advanced medical directive.
Advanced Directives and Medical Power of Attorney
An advanced directive outlines your medical treatment preferences, such as resuscitation orders, ventilation or respiration requests, and other life-extending measures. A medical POA, on the other hand, designates a trusted person to make medical decisions on your behalf. Ensure that a medical POA is included in your advanced directive, even if you plan to create a durable power of attorney or living trust.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable POA allows a third party to make financial decisions on your behalf, ensuring that your family can access and manage your assets in case of incapacitation. This legal document can be tailored to include or exclude specific provisions, so consult with a lawyer to create a POA that best suits your needs.
A living trust is an arrangement that assigns asset management responsibility to a trustee in the event of your incapacitation or death. It sets forth specific conditions for asset management and can help avoid the need for court probate. Keep in mind that a living trust is not a substitute for a will, but rather an additional tool for estate planning.
Step 2: Getting Organized
Organizing your financial and medical records is essential for avoiding confusion and stress after your passing. Begin by gathering all relevant documentation, such as mortgage papers, titles, deeds, and even passwords to online accounts. Create a comprehensive list of your assets, their approximate values, access instructions, and any related documentation.
For digital accounts, consider creating a shared browser profile with a trusted loved one, which stores all usernames and passwords. Alternatively, you can maintain a written list in a safe deposit box.
Additionally, consider drafting a non-legal letter to surviving family or friends outlining your wishes for funeral planning and other basic tasks, such as pet care and mail management.
In this part of our Legacy Planning Series, we've covered the importance of planning for incapacity and getting organized. By addressing these critical aspects, you'll create a strong foundation for your comprehensive legacy plan. Stay tuned for the next installment in the series, where we'll delve into the intricacies of asset distribution, inheritance, and tax implications.