You’ll need to make many decisions in order to allow our office to customize your estate planning documents to your particular needs. While you don’t need to stress about immediately getting all of this information together, it’s good to review the items below as it allows you to begin the process of formulating your thoughts as to how you’d like your estate planning documents drafted.
All of these decisions are very involved and are well beyond a simple “fill in the blank” form. Our office will talk through all of these matters at our drafting appointment and discuss the implications of any decisions you make. Nevertheless, it will be helpful for you to give some thought to the questions below:
Will & Trust
- Who you’d like to appoint as the Personal Representative (“Executor”) in your Will and who you’d like to list as backups to that main person. Usually spouses appoint each other as the main PR. You can list as many backups as you like. Our office recommends at least 2 backups.
- If you have minor children, who you’d like to name as the Guardian of those children should each of their parents pass away while they are under age 18. Please provide backups to that main person. Our office recommends at least 2 backups.
- If you’re drafting a Trust, who you’d like to name as the successor Trustee (backup trustee) to handle and distribute your Trust assets after you and your spouse both pass away or become incapacitated. Again, please provide at least 2 backups.
- Generally, how you’d like your assets distributed upon your death. Usually spouses will give everything to the other spouse upon their passing, but consider a situation where you both pass at the same time or your spouse has already predeceased you. Think of everyone you’d like to provide for, and please think about a secondary or contingent distribution plan in the event that a particular beneficiary predeceases you (e.g., do you want that gift to go to someone else, down to the deceased beneficiary’s children, or to lapse and revert back and increase the shares of the other living beneficiaries.)
- Note that children under 18 cannot receive money outright. If you’re planning for children or young adults, what age or ages would you like the children to receive money outright? Rather than giving the entire gift to children at a certain age, many people prefer to spread it out over several years (e.g., 1/3 at ages 25, 30 and 35 or ½ at 25 and 30 - or at any ages and percentages that you prefer.)
General Durable Power of Attorney
- Who you wish to name as your Agent in your Durable Power of Attorney (usually spouses appoint each other). Please provide at least 2 backups.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care & Health Care Directive
- Who you’d like to name as your Agent to make health care decisions for you if you’re incapacitated and unable to communicate those on your own (usually spouses appoint each other). Please provide at least 2 backups.
- What health care directives do you wish to leave for your Agent if you are persistently unconscious or there is no expectation of your recovery from a terminal injury or illness? E.g., do you wish to be put on a respirator, CPR, surgery, given tube feeding, etc.? Don’t worry, as this is a complicated topic, we’ll spend some time discussing this issue.
- Do you wish to be an organ donor? If so, are there any restrictions that you wish to place on this donation?
Please bring full names, addresses and telephone numbers of all the above individuals you wish to name in your estate planning documents. I’ll need to get those from you at our drafting meeting.
Don’t worry if you don’t have answers to all of these questions or if these questions raise other questions you’d like to ask - - we’ll talk through all of this at our appointment. If need be, you’ll leave the appointment with a “To Do List” of items you need to think about and get back to me on.
Our office looks forward to discussing these matters with you and/or answering any questions that you may have. You’re invited to call us on the telephone with any questions or to set up an initial consultation where we can delve into your needs and options in much greater detail. We look forward to hearing from you and being of service!!