When asked about getting your affairs in order, most people immediately think about a last will, but there is a lot more involved in this process. Anyone over age 18 should have documents and plans in place in case of incapacity or death.
News4Jax’s recent article entitled “Are your affairs in order? Things to sign now to save your loved ones later” acknowledges that many people delay estate planning believing there will always be time in the future to get their affairs in order. Sadly, many wait too long, limiting their options, and placing a larger burden on their family.
Nonetheless, this is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves or our families, and it will require an experienced estate planning attorney to finalize everything.
So, are your affairs in order?
Remember that your estate is essentially everything you own. If it’s not protected, it could be taken away from your loved ones.
Two important documents to have in case of incapacity or serious illness are a Living Will and a Power of Attorney for Healthcare. These documents allow you to designate the individual with the authority to speak for you, if you cannot speak for yourself, and gives them written instructions about your healthcare wishes. A HIPPA authorization also lets your designated agent speak with your healthcare providers and have access to your medical records.
Another important form is a Durable Financial Power of Attorney. This document allows you to appoint someone you trust (your Agent) to handle your bills, contracts and assets. This document must be signed and notarized.
Next are payable on death (POD) and transfer on death (TOD) designations, which allow your personal or investment bank account balances be given automatically to anyone you designate free of probate.
Switching gears, you are going to need a digital asset inventory. This will contain your entire online presence and include all of your accounts, logins, passwords, social media and professional profiles. This also includes a list of everything you have on autopay.
Lastly, you need a last will and testament through which you name an executor (or a personal representative) to handle your final postmortem affairs. But a will doesn’t keep assets out of probate, so make certain that you have all of those other documents ready.
One more item: you can draft a personal property memorandum that lists the beneficiaries of any sentimental, non-monetary, items.
Reference: News4Jax (Jan. 13, 2021) “Are your affairs in order? Things to sign now to save your loved ones later”