Thy Will Be Done: Some basics in estate planning

Why do we need to plan our estate? If I don’t own “South Fork,” than why would I worry about my stuff after my death; let alone “Who Shot JR?” Sorry for the cheesy 1980’s references. If you don’t understand those just Netflix “Dallas,” and all shall be revealed. Seriously, estate planning is not for you, it is for those that are left behind once have passed away here on earth.

Estate planning done properly is giving your heirs instructions from the grave and making this difficult time a little less difficult.   It avoids “hopefully,” those Jerry Springer moments between siblings and other heirs. No one wants an “interesting funeral,” unless your Greek….they put the FUN in funeral.  Below are a list of documents EVERYONE needs to have:

Will: The main purpose of a will is to distribute property to your heirs after you have passed. You will need to name someone to be responsible for managing the distribution, names an executor or executrix.  A will is a public document. If I wanted to, I could see what was in Elvis’s will. Yes, I do like peanut butter and nanner sandwich’s.

Durable power of attorney: This is a document that allows someone to handle your affairs in the event you become physically or mentally incompetent to handle your financial matters when you cannot.  You can have a DPOA that goes into action immediately (your choice) or one that “springs,” into action only when you have become incapacitated.

Advanced medical directives: This is a document that allows you to tell others what medical treatments you do or do not want. If you don’t have one, the medical staff will do all within their power to keep you alive for as long as possible.  A living will allows you to accept or decline medical care, say like food or water. A Durable power of attorney for health care or heath care proxy allows someone else to make medical decisions for you. A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) tells the doctor to not do CPR if you go into cardiac arrest and only is applicable if you are in a hospital.

Living Trust: Trust? Scary?  Nope, all a trust is is a “box,” that you put your stuff in. Instead of you as the owner, it’s your trust box.  This is a revocable trust (meaning you can change what’s inside the box/trust) while you are living. Once your dead, all the stuff stays in the box.  Also, assets inside a trust avoid probate and can ease the burden of your executor and trustees.  A trust is a private document and I wish I would see what is in the Kennedy Family Trust.

Please seek legal counsel for the above documents for your family. Remember, there is not a trailer hitch on a hearse. You can’t take it with you but you can send it on ahead. “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. “ Proverbs 13:22

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