Now that we are moving back to taking actual vacations, we are likely to be “out of the office” for an extended period of time again…hopefully turning off work-related devices.
To that end, we may be dusting off that “out of office” template we’ve used in years past. In it, we document EVERY project or task we are working on and leave excruciatingly detailed instructions and contact lists for our colleagues to follow, so when we return to work, they are still speaking to us.
Have we done this for our family and/or friends about US, our stuff, our assets, and our wishes, or are we leaving them a mess and a guessing game?
An estate plan (or Personal Contingency Plan™ as I like to call it), is not for us…neither is the Out of Office Memo. It’s for our families so we leave “love behind not logistics” (great line from a CBS Sunday Morning show I saw).
What goes into this Personal Contingency Plan?
- Revocable Trust (or Living Trust) = “[A Living Trust] is designed to avoid or limit probate for the deceased’s assets by creating a legally separate entity to hold property. But what does that mean…[t]his expedites the process because the trust details who the trustee is, what happens to the trust once you’ve passed and how to manage property held within the trust. [Additionally] a living trust provides faster access to certain assets than going through probate to sort out a last will and testament. However, your will is still a necessary part of your estate planning.” It also provides “guardrails” for distributing assets to our kids…do you want to hand a large check to an 18, 21, 25, 30-year-old with no guidance on how it’s to be used (or not used)?
- Last Will & Testament = we all need one so our states of residence don’t determine who gets our stuff; we also need one to name guardians if we have minor children; it often ties in with the above trust.
- Power of Attorney = financial permission slip; who can sign our tax returns if we can’t, who can pick up our mail, who can pay our bills, who can access a safe deposit box if we can’t? Without this document someone (may not be your choice) must petition the court to have you declared incapacitated and become your conservator.
- Health Care Proxy (Health Care Power of Attorney) = medical permission slip; without this, similar to the above conservator, someone will need to petition a court to be named your guardian…takes a LONG time, is intrusive, and again may not be someone of your choosing.
- Living Will/Advanced Directive = “Basically, [this document] informs your loved ones and medical staff of your wishes regarding lifesaving or life-prolonging medical procedures in the event you become unable to communicate them.”
Getting this plan in place is consistently in our top 5 “to do’s.” Only 1/3 of us have a plan of our design in place. If we don’t do this, our state of residence is happy to do it for us.
Click here (if you are a MA resident) and let’s talk – 20-min, no-fee consult. Let’s cross this off your “to-do” list for 2022.