A checklist helps to ensure there are no gaps in your health care, financial, insurance, or estate plan documents.
Power of Attorney Checklist
- Are your agents outdated because of age, disability, or residence?
- Is a minor now old enough to be your agent?
- Update your Health Care Power of Attorney to include authority for your agent to access health care workers remotely and to visit you via Zoom or Facetime.
Whether a trip to the hospital is sudden or planned, you will need a current Health Care Power of Attorney document. You will be asked for this legal document, and if you do not have one, you are required to sign something you do not understand while in the hospital, under stress, and with plenty of other things on your mind.
A Health Care POA appoints a person to make all health care decisions for you if you cannot do so. This person can access your medical records to accept or withdraw treatment, admit or discharge you from the hospital, and make decisions on life support. If you have arrived at the hospital unconscious, it is chaos with your family and medical personnel. This isn’t a situation you want to be in or one you want for your family.
Take a minute to review your existing Health Care POA and ensure your agent is correct and that the document is current. If you do not have one, now is the time to get one.
The law holds that no one, not even a spouse, can legally sign your name unless you have a valid Financial Power of Attorney that designates an agent to do so.
Your Financial POA agent has the legal authority to manage your financial affairs if you can no longer make these decisions yourself. A Financial POA is an important document to ensure that your financial matters are handled efficiently in an unfortunate occurrence.
Now is the time to review or obtain a Financial Power of Attorney document.
Beneficiary Designations Checklist
- Were any children born after you opened your insurance policies or tax-deferred accounts.
- Have any beneficiaries died?
- Has your marriage ended, or are you separated from your spouse?
- Do any beneficiaries have a legal disability? Name your Living Trust to avoid government reimbursement from your estate.
- Are any beneficiaries minors under the age of 18? Name your Living Trust to avoid Probate.
Living Trust or other Estate Plan Checklist
- What has changed in your family? Have you moved?
- In the event something happens to you, does your estate plan reflect your current wishes?
- Are your beneficiaries the same? Do you need to remove a beneficiary or add a new one?
- Are any changes needed on the timing of the transfer of your assets to your beneficiaries?
- Do your beneficiaries require asset protection because of disability, legal trouble, or a failing marriage?
- Is your Trustee or Executor still appropriate?
- Are all your assets titled in the name of your Living Trusts?
Real Estate Deeds Checklist
- Did you remember to retitle your property deed into the name of your Living Trust after the refinance closing?
- Have you moved your residence? Did you take the title of your new property in the name of your Living Trust?
- Are you still working? If so, as the active police and married, the title to the deed of your principal place of residence should be in Tenants by Entirety for maximum asset protection.
- Have you gotten married?
Living Trusts, if Not Now, When?
We all know that we need an estate plan, and we should take care of it sooner rather than later. However, almost everyone procrastinates when it comes to this essential task.
At the end of your life or incapacitation, they risk Probate if you have property, investments, or bank accounts in your name.
Advantages of a Living Trust
- A Will is Probate. The rule is no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, all assets in your name are subject to the Probate process, which averages 18 months and is costly.
- A Living Trust completely avoids Probate.
- Your financial accounts, life insurance policies, and deferred compensation accounts can name your Living Trust as the beneficiary. This is subject to essential tax considerations.
- A Living Trust estate plan includes both Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents. It also consists of a Last Will and Testament. A Will is necessary for guardianship of minor children. It also transfers assets in your name out of Probate.
- A Living Trust contains a No Contest provision and beneficiary Asset Protection clauses.
Tom Tuohy is the founder of Tuohy Law Offices.
This blog entry is for information purposes only. Therefore, it is not legal advice. Please do not use this blog as legal advice, which turns on specific facts, as well as laws in specific jurisdictions. No reader of this blog should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the reader’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.