Wills and Power of Attorneys
Having a plan is a vital part of considered preparation for the expected and the unexpected. Taking the time to complete documents such as living and last wills and power of attorneys may seem morbid or daunting but it’s a testament to the care and consideration you give to your loved ones. The details outlined in these documents range from describing your preferences for healthcare and end of life proceedings in addition to appointing people you trust to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated prior to passing. Making your wishes well known assures that your friends and family act in your best interests and won’t be confronted with impossible decisions while they’re grieving.
At Shamika Saves, I offer my services and resources to help you navigate all of this. From wills to power of attorneys, I have the experience and expertise to steer you in the right direction for you and your family.
Estate planning is an integral part of an end of life plan. Arranging a living will, a living trust, or a last will and testament assures the highest level of legal and financial protection for your estate. Preparing these documents while you are still of sound body and mind can alleviate a tremendous amount of stress for your friends and family during the eventual emotional time of grief and mourning they will endure following a passing.
A last will, also known as a last will and testament, sets out how your estate is to be handled after you die. This is a legally binding document that processes through a probate court and may take anywhere from six months to a year in most states before beneficiaries are afforded their predetermined portion of your estate. This last will and testament includes instructions on how to divide your assets, who will care for minor children, and who will administer the estate. Last wills go on to name an executor, who is the person responsible for managing the estate until the probate proceeding ends.
Executor duties include:
- Locating the deceased person’s assets
- Finding and contacting the beneficiaries
- Wrapping up the deceased person’s financial affairs
- Setting up an escrow account and paying outstanding bills and the estate’s final income taxes
Last wills must be signed and dated by a testator (person who writes the will) before two witnesses who then sign and date the document as well. Witnesses must be at least 18 witnesses must not be beneficiaries.
A living will is sometimes also known as an advanced healthcare directive. The purpose of this document is to establish your wishes when it comes to your healthcare, should you be unable to make them. A living will lets you choose what life-sustaining medical actions may be taken should you suffer a life-threatening accident, injury, or illness and can no longer make decisions.
By having a plan in place you can alleviate the stress on friends and family members from making decisions about your medical care during an already emotional time. It is always recommended that you seek the advice of your primary care physician regarding the healthcare options that would be available to you and what plan of action works best with your preferred method of treatment.
A living trust while similar to a will offers specific differences that may make it more ideal for some particular families and situations. For example, property left through a trust doesn’t need to go through probate court before it can be transferred to the people who inherit it. This can streamline the inheritance process and provide privacy as well, distributing assets to beneficiaries within a few weeks or a few months. Because wills become a matter of public record when they are filed with the court after death, trusts offer a level of privacy that may be more fitting for some families looking to keep their business to themselves. Using a trust instead of a last will and testament, saves family members money, time, and effort although it is common to create both.
Living trusts can take effect while the settlor is still alive as well as. If the person who created the trust, known as the settlor, becomes incapacitated and needs help managing trust property, the beneficiary, or the person who benefits now or later from the trust, can inherit the assets set aside in the trust.
Power of Attorney (POA)
Power of attorney is a privilege granted to a trusted family member or friend, which enables them to make decisions on behalf of the person who created it. A number of different situations exist in which power of attorney can be beneficial and as a result, different kinds of power of attorney exist to address these situations.
General Power of Attorney
General power of attorney gives broad powers to a person or organization known as an agent of attorney. A person acting as an agent of attorney handles financial and business transactions, buying life insurance, settling claims, operating business interests, making gifts, and employing professional help. This particular POA can be useful when you are out of the country or if you become physically or mentally unable to manage your own affairs
Special Power of Attorney
With a special power of attorney, you can specify exactly what powers an agent may exercise. This is often used when you can’t handle certain affairs due to prior commitments or other health reasons.
Health Care Power of Attorney
A health care power of attorney allows the named person to exercise their own judgment when making medical decisions on your behalf.
Durable Power of Attorney
The durable power of attorney is a general, special, or health care POA that has a durability provision to keep the current power of attorney in effect.
Contact Me for More Information
Are you ready to start planning and preparing? Getting started now can ensure that your wishes are met when you’re gone and can prevent your loved ones from having to make spur of the moment decisions and trying to interpret what you would have wanted. Taking the necessary steps now might prevent things from not going the way you would have wanted and may prevent sparking any family fights when you’re gone.