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Planning for the future is undoubtedly a daunting task as well as an emotional process. But, planning for the future of your assets and estate can help avoid an immense amount of heartache after you are gone. At Goldberg and Associates, we are committed to helping you protect your assets and make it easier for remaining family members to execute your wishes. We know there is a lot to consider, so here are the top five things that you can do to get the process started. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of compassionate and experienced estate planning and elder law attorneys.
Top Five Tips to Get Your Affairs in Order
- Gather Important Documents and Information
- Create a Living Will and Trust
- Create or Review Beneficiary Designations
- Designate Powers of Attorney
- Designate Guardians For Minor Children
Actions You Can Take to Begin Getting Your Affairs in Order
There are several very important steps that need to be taken in order to protect your family and estate after you’re gone. While it can feel overwhelming, taking the time to do these things now will provide peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be met. If you have any questions about these steps or would like to schedule a consultation with our estate planning attorneys, get in touch with our firm today.
Having various documents in an easily accessible place will make certain tasks easier for remaining family. These are a few of the more important documents that you’ll need to compile:
- Personal information, such as full legal name, residence, date and place of birth, social security number, military records, names of doctors and financial advisors, and the location of your living will and other legal documents.
- Financial information, such as a pension, IRA, 401(k), Medicare/Medicaid information, bank accounts, investments such as stocks and bonds, tax returns, mortgage, deed of trust for houses, and debt.
When these documents have been gathered, keep them in a safe place such as a safe within your home or a safety deposit box. It’s also important to give a trusted member of the family or an estate attorney the information for how to access the safe or deposit box.
These are two distinct estate planning options and each has its own purpose and benefits.
- Living Will: This document describes your wishes regarding end-of-life care. It’s also known as an advance healthcare directive. In the event that you become incapacitated, a living will dictates what you want to be done - or not done - in order to prolong your life.
- Living Trust: This is a fund that holds assets while you are still living and will include information regarding how the assets are to be distributed in the event of your death. The fund can include assets such as real estate, vehicles, jewelry, and bank accounts.
Creating beneficiary designations is describing who will receive a certain asset. You can designate a beneficiary for a life insurance policy, for example. Beneficiaries can include spouses, children, other family members, friends, or even charities. And you can designate a certain percentage of the asset to go to certain people or organizations. Assets that you can name beneficiaries for include
- Bank accounts
- Securities accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Saving bonds
- Life insurance policies
Creating a Last Will and Testament is also a process where you will distribute assets to certain people, but in many cases, the beneficiary designations will override the will. Speak with your estate planning attorney to learn more details about creating and reviewing beneficiary designations.
There are several types of POA and each has an important role in your estate plan. The people you designate will manage your affairs and estate in the event that you become incapacitated and after your death. The two most important powers of attorney are:
- Durable POA: This person has your authority to make financial, legal, and business decisions on your behalf. The word “durable” refers to the fact that they still have the authority to make decisions if you become incapacitated, but the authority ends after you die.
- Medical POA: This person has your authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. They can allow doctors to provide medical treatment and surgical procedures, as well as decide which health care facility you will stay at and can authorize the release of medical records.
This will determine who minor children will live with in the event that you and the other parent unexpectedly die. Although many people choose people within the family, guardians for minor children can be friends as well. When selecting a guardian, it’s important to ask them first so they aren’t taken by surprise, and it’s important to know that you can change your mind if circumstances change.
Work With Goldberg & Associates For Your Estate Planning Needs
Estate planning can take a lot of work and preparation, but once your affairs are in order, it can provide immense peace of mind knowing your wishes will be granted and that your family is protected from the hassles of court. We care deeply about helping individuals and couples of all ages plan for their future and that of their estate. We serve the greater Atlanta area and have locations in Peachtree City, Griffin, and Atlanta. Call our attorneys today to schedule an appointment.