We have celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas all while surviving another year with COVID still not completely under control! We transition to that beautiful time when we can take pleasure in making it to New Year!
Whether we admit it or not, everyone makes some type of New Year’s resolution. However, it typically does not take long before their resolutions lapse or are forgotten. Here, we’re dedicated to help refocus on you, your family and controlling what you can do to protect the values you hold most dear. This centers on working to ensure that your wishes are carried out should any major crisis occur. A major crisis could include an accident, illness or even death. The seemingly infinite outcomes and the impacts to your family’s financial situation can be controlled NOW. Don’t wait.
There can be many ways to work towards this peace of mind. I am referring to three legal documents we advise clients to have reviewed or updated. The three documents are:
- Will and/or trust
- Medical power of attorney
- Durable financial power of attorney
A Will (and/or Trust)
I believe every adult should have a will, regardless of age, health, and wealth. If you die without a will, the court’s default is to distribute your estate according to your resident state’s intestate succession laws. This means that your wishes may not be carried out.
A will is a legal document that details your final wishes about how to distribute your assets after death. A will should work to accomplish:
- Naming a representative to administer the will
- Naming a guardian for minor children
- Securing your estate assets (including digital assets) and choosing beneficiaries
- Communicating your wishes, making funeral and burial arrangements
- Beginning or continuing charitable philanthropy
Medical Power of Attorney (aka Advance Directive)
The medical power of attorney, depending on where you live, may go by different names. They all refer to the same document. A few common names for medical powers of attorney are healthcare power of attorney, advance directive or durable power of attorney for health care.
The medical power of attorney is intended to communicate your wishes and treatments you want if you are dying, permanently unconscious or otherwise unable to make decisions about your emergency care.
Please note that it can be difficult to foresee a comprehensive treatment checklist or interpret any nuances. This document can allow you to appoint a health care proxy who is empowered to speak to your doctors, access all available health care information, and make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. It should be shared with your family and carried with you in case of emergency.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney
If, for any reason, you are unable to take care of your finances, a durable financial power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to oversee your financial and personal affairs.
Please note, this is typically different than a simple power of attorney which allows someone to access and manage financial accounts but doesn’t continue once you’re incapacitated.
Bonus Tip: Qualified Plans & IRA Beneficiaries
It is wise to make sure your beneficiary designations are up to date on all your retirement, brokerage, life insurance and bank accounts. Many of our clients have had several retirement accounts that were misplaced, forgotten about or not monitored.
Now may be a good time to consider consolidating your separated retirement accounts or IRAs into accounts with Knapp Family Wealth. This works to simplify what can be dynamic and complex.
If you have any wealth questions, we’re honored to help. Use our “Ask Me Anything” 30-Minute session & schedule a convenient time by Clicking HERE.
James C. Knapp, AIF®, BFA™, CPFA®
The material and opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.
The information in this article is intended to provide a general understanding of the law, not to act as legal advice. I recommend partnering with an estate planning attorney to create your estate planning documents.