Not everyone runs to an
estate planning attorney’s office to draw up their estate planning documents, but
everyone should. The problem is it can be hard for some people to think
about dying or what will happen to their loved ones after their death,
so they’ll put off estate planning until after retirement or until
they become ill with a terminal disease.
In reality, no one should put off estate planning because they never know
when an accident or fatal illness will strike, but my opinion is “better
late than never!” If you’ve put off estate planning because
the thought of immortality made you uncomfortable or because you never
got around to it, I understand where you’re coming from.
If you are now in your Golden Years or if you’re younger and you’re
ill, now is the time to take concrete steps to establish a solid estate
plan that will give you peace of mind.
You will want to consider the following:
1. A will: A
will says which beneficiaries get what and when. If you are married, a certain
share of your assets will go to your spouse unless he or she was
disinherited through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
2. A revocable living trust: Some people have a will
revocable living trust, while others only have a trust. Either way, trusts are beneficial because
any assets funded in a trust avoid
probate fees and delays. Some families save a significant amount of money by having
a trust, which they can control while they’re alive and capable.
3. Naming a guardian if you have minor children: If you have minor children, it’s important to name a guardian for
them in your will. If you do not name a guardian and their other parent
is not alive, they could end up in foster care. Since parents want to
avoid this possibility, they name a guardian, someone who they trust raising
their children in their absence.
4. Your beneficiary designations: In some cases, a large portion of a person’s assets are controlled by
beneficiary designations, such as those involving bank accounts, 401ks, IRAs, and life insurance.
While estate planning, you want to ensure your beneficiary designations
reflect your current wishes.
5. An advanced directive: An advanced directive gives someone you know and trust the authority to
speak on your behalf about end of life care when you cannot. If you do
not name someone in an advance directive, the court could step in and
name someone for you and this person may not be the one you would have chosen.
6. A durable power of attorney for healthcare and finances: A durable power of attorney for healthcare ensures the person named in
your advanced directive has the power to make important decisions about
your medical care when you’re incapacitated.
A durable power of attorney for finances gives someone you trust the power
to handle your assets when you are no longer able to – this often
happens with advanced age. For instance, this would give your husband
or wife the authority to use your checking account to pay the rent or mortgage.
If you don’t have a DPOA for finances, loved ones would have to ask
the court to appoint a
conservator to handle your finances and though that’s an option, it complicates
matters for your family during a stressful time.
Dying Without a Will in Tennessee
To start the estate planning process in Nashville or Franklin,
contact my firm today.