If the public health crisis the world has been experiencing for months has a non-health related takeaway, it should be the need for estate planning and planning for if you are temporarily or permanently unable to care for yourself, your property or your health care.
Estate planning benefits virtually everyone regardless of net worth, income, tax bracket, family size and age. Simply stated, estate planning helps to ensure that your loved ones are aware of your wishes, that they are legally documented and can be easily carried out.
Estate planning also helps your family rebuild and move on after your disability or death by alleviating any fighting or disagreements over how matters should be handled, by whom, and the division of assets. You are the one making the decisions about what is best for you and those you care about.
A few of the most commonly used documents used for estate planning are:
- Durable Power of Attorney - A Durable Power of Attorney gives an appointed agent authority to handle your personal and financial affairs during your life in case of your incapacity, or simply for your convenience even if you are not incapacitated.
- Health Care Proxy / Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare - The Healthcare Proxy names an agent to make legally binding healthcare decisions in the event of your incapacity. If you do not have this document and your doctors need answers regarding treatment, a court-appointed guardian may be required.
- HIPPA Authorization / Advanced Medical Directive / Living Will - A HIPPA Authorization is usually prepared along with the Healthcare Proxy in order to provide authorization for your healthcare providers to discuss your medical information with the individual(s) named in the document.
- Last Will and Testament - A Last Will and Testament is a document that everyone should have because this controls the disposition of assets after death. More importantly, if you have minor children, you can provide for them financially and nominate a guardian to be responsible for your children when you are gone.
- Funeral Agent Designation - New Jersey Law permits you to decide who will be your Funeral and Disposition Agent (“Agent”) who you appoint to authorize your funeral arrangements and the final disposition of your remains after your death. You can make legally binding decisions about funeral and burial or cremation and have your agent carry them out.
Nobody enjoys thinking about illness, disability or their mortality, but planning ahead is one of the best gifts you can give your loved ones and yourself. You will have peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be followed, and you have significantly lightened the emotional and financial burden for loved ones left behind.
Basic estate planning is not just for the wealthy. Contact our office today to discuss what is best for you and your family.