Having an estate plan in order is the best way to protect your family if you unexpectedly die or become disabled.
Fundamentally, an estate plan is a collection of necessary forms and instructions for people to use and follow when they eventually become necessary (and they will someday).
Once you have estate plan established, and forms ready – with instructions – you still need to educate your family and other key parties about them.
Let us look at how you can do this and why you should do this.
Critical Estate Planning Forms
Again, Estate planning forms are where you put your wishes in writing – so that your family and loved ones know exactly what you want when you die or become incapacitated.
Some of the planning forms you should have are:
- Will/ Trust: This is where you put what you want to happen to your property. It is important to have a will or trust even if you do not have substantial assets. Having a will or trust will help with probate and make it easier for things to be divided.
- Durable Power of Attorney for Finances: This document names a person to take care of your finances for you. This should be a person that you trust to make decisions you would want.
- Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare: This document names a person to make your healthcare decisions for you. You can have the same person for your finances and healthcare if you wish but do not have to. Make sure the person you choose, knows what you want for your healthcare if you cannot make those decisions for yourself.
- Beneficiary Designations: There are certain types of assets, such as life insurance, that does not get dictated by your will. If you do not have a beneficiary designated for these items, then the court can determine who will be your beneficiary.
- Letter of Intent: This is where you will define what you want to be done with certain items. It can include what you would like for your funeral services or other special requests. You can also add in a letter of intent, your wishes for the way your children should be raised and what types of decisions should be made regarding education, schooling, and other important situations.
- Guardianship Designations: This is where you will name a guardian for your children and a backup guardian in case the original guardian cannot fulfill the role. Sometimes this is done within the will but if it is not then you need to have a separate place for it. If you do not name a guardian, then the court will place your children with who they believe to be best for your children.
How To Educate Your Family About Your Estate Planning Forms
This is very easy.
Discuss with your family what planning forms you have used as well as what you have put in them. Also, make sure to keep all of your estate planning forms together in a secure place and that at least one or two family members know how to find them.
For guardianship designation, make sure that whoever you choose also has a copy of the form. This is important in case your copy cannot be found.
Of course, just because we say it’s easy – doesn’t make it so! We’re always here to help as well. We can provide great ideas, for instance, we constantly have classes and other outreach opportunities they can attend. OR – perhaps they need an estate plan themselves, after seeing how this plan has helped set you and your family up for success. Sometimes the best education is doing something in the first place. We certainly love referrals!