Planning your estate means that you are developing a blueprint of how you want your personal and financial affairs handled after you can no longer handle them. This definition is broader than planning for death. It covers the broad range of end-of-life decisions that will help a family through stressful and difficult times.
Financially: If you have minor children, an estate plan can make sure that they are provided for in the event that both parents die before they reach adulthood. If your spouse inherits all of your property at your death, who will inherit it after your spouse’s death? Will your children inherit it? Or will your spouse’s new spouse inherit it? An estate plan can ensure that your children (or grandchildren) will inherit your property. If you have an estate tax problem, an estate plan can reduce or eliminate death taxes. Every dollar you save in taxes is one more dollar for your heir(s).
Emotionally Every decision you make now is one less decision that your family will have to make, and one less opportunity for conflict. Reducing conflict among family members in the settlement of an estate means a better chance of preserving family relationships in the future.
Making end-of-life choices can be overwhelming and confusing. But, you can manage it more easily if you approach the task one step at a time. First, learn about the issues. Second, decide what you want. Third, discuss your choices with the appropriate people. Fourth, make it legal. Let’s discuss each of these steps.
End-of-life care issues: Housing choices Medical care Personal care Termination of life support Preferred place of death (home, hospital, nursing home, etc.)
Legal authority issues Who do you want to handle your affairs after you can no longer handle them? (before and after death) Do you want the same person to take care of you and your property? Who do you want to make your medical decisions if you cannot make them yourself?
Financial issues: How will you pay for medical care? How will you pay for nursing home care or other assisted living arrangements? Do you need life insurance to adequately provide for your family after you pass on? How will your family pay for your funeral, cremation, or memorial arrangements?
Property issues: How do you own your property? Solely? Jointly? With or without a right of survivorship? Who will get your property at your death? With or without a will? Have you adequately provided for your spouse? For your minor children? Who gets the family heirlooms?
Family issues: If you have minor children, who will raise them if both parents die before the children reach adulthood? If a minor inherits your property, who will manage it for the minor? Are there children from a previous marriage? Have you provided for disabled or other dependent family members?
Death-related issues: Do you want to donate your organs? Do you want to be buried or cremated? What type of memorial service do you want, if any?
Last Will and Testament Legal document that disposes of your property at your death. You can name an executor, the person who will be responsible for wrapping up your final affairs. You can recommend a guardian for minor children. You can name a trustee to handle property inherited by a minor child.
Durable Power Of Attorney A document that gives someone the legal authority to act on your behalf.
Health Care Power Of Attorney A document designating someone to make medical decisions for you when you are unable to make them yourself.
Advance Instruction For Mental Health Treatment A document that someone who suffers from a mental illness can use to make decisions about what mental health treatment he or she does or does not want when he or she is unable to make those decisions.
Living Will A statement that you want to die a natural death. You do not want your life prolonged by artificial means if there is no reasonable hope of recovery. It authorizes medical providers to withhold or withdraw life support systems.
Trust(s) An arrangement where someone transfers legal title of property to a trustee to hold and manage for the benefit of beneficiaries. You can set up a trust while you are alive, or you set up a trust after your death with your will.
Letter of last instruction: A letter that you write for your executor and/or family that provides important information, such as location of bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, important papers, etc., and the names of bankers, accountants, lawyers, etc. Ethical will: An ethical will bequeaths your values to your family in the same way that your legal will bequeaths your assets. An ethical will bequeaths values, ideas, and personal reflections to family members and other loved ones. Medical directives: A laundry list of medical care that you do or do not want under stated circumstances. You may incorporate medical directives into your health care power of attorney. They may be written as “suggestions” rather than “directives.” Do not resuscitate order (DNR): A DNR is written by a doctor for a patient who does not want to be resuscitated if he stops breathing or if his heart stops beating. Organ donation card Must be signed in the presence of two witnesses. This is in addition to a driver’s license. May be included in a will, but this may be found too late.
The time and money that you spend developing a comprehensive estate plan is a gift that you give to your family.
Discuss the disk that they have as a handout. All newsletters are on their small disk. All files are .pdf and require Adobe Reader which is free from www.adobe.com (most people will have this already).
Thank you for coming to our Workable Wellness session today!
Estate Planning Protecting Your Family’s Future
Estate Planning Protects Your Family’s Future <ul><li>Financially </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides for dependent family members </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preserves assets for children or grandchildren </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduces or eliminates death taxes </li></ul></ul>
<ul><li>Emotionally </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Minimizes potential for conflict among family members </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preserves family relationships </li></ul></ul>Estate Planning Protects Your Family’s Future
What Do I Do? <ul><li>Learn about the issues </li></ul><ul><li>Decide what you want </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss your choices with the appropriate people </li></ul><ul><li>Make it legal </li></ul>?
Learn About the Issues <ul><li>End-of-life Care Issues </li></ul>
Decide What You Want <ul><li>Make Decisions About </li></ul><ul><li>Who gets your property </li></ul><ul><li>People who depend upon you for support </li></ul><ul><li>Your preferences for living arrangements </li></ul><ul><li>Medical care you do or do not want </li></ul>
<ul><li>Make Decisions About </li></ul><ul><li>How you will pay for medical, nursing home care, and other needed assistance </li></ul><ul><li>Who will make decisions for you when you cannot </li></ul><ul><li>Burial, cremation, and memorial arrangements </li></ul>Decide What You Want
Discuss Your Choices With The Appropriate People <ul><li>Spouse </li></ul><ul><li>Family members </li></ul><ul><li>Agent (under durable power of attorney) </li></ul><ul><li>Health care agent </li></ul><ul><li>Friends (if so desired) </li></ul><ul><li>Doctors and other medical providers </li></ul><ul><li>Lawyer </li></ul><ul><li>Clergy (if so desired) </li></ul>
Make It Legal <ul><li>Last Will and Testament </li></ul>Must-Have Document # 1
Make It Legal Durable Power Of Attorney Must-Have Document # 2
Make It Legal Health Care Power Of Attorney Must-Have Document # 3
Make It Legal Advance Instruction For Mental Health Treatment Must-Have Document # 4
Make It Legal Living Will Must-Have Document # 5
Other Useful Documents <ul><li>Letter of last instruction </li></ul><ul><li>Ethical will </li></ul><ul><li>Medical directives or suggestions </li></ul><ul><li>Do not resuscitate order (DNR) </li></ul><ul><li>Organ donation card </li></ul>
Planning Your Estate The gift you give your family
For more information please refer to the Estate Planning newsletter on your mini-CD