Estate planning documents are made to help you and your family, in the event of your untimely demise or incapacitation. These documents will give your family specific instructions on how to proceed. The Winston-Salem Journal’s recent article titled “4 Must-Have Documents for a Peaceful Retirement” looks at these critical documents in constructing an effective estate plan.
- Power of Attorney (POA). If you become incapacitated or become unable to make your own financial decisions, a POA will permit a trusted agent to manage your affairs. Have an estate planning attorney review your POA before it's executed. You can give someone a limited POA that restricts their authority to specific transactions. You can also create a springing POA, which takes effect only at the time of your incapacitation.
- Will. About 40% of Americans actually have a will. Creating a valid will prevents you from leaving a mess for your heirs to address after you die. A will appoints an executor who will manage your affairs in a fiduciary manner. The will also details your plan for the distribution of your property. Make certain that your will is also in agreement with other documents you've set up, so it doesn’t create any questions.
- TOD/POD Designation Forms. A Transfer-on-Death (TOD) or Payable-on-Death (POD) designation lets you assign your investment accounts to a named beneficiary. The big benefit here is that accounts with a named TOD/POD beneficiary pass directly to that person when you die. Any accounts without a TOD/POD beneficiary will be subject to the terms of your will and will be required to go through the probate process.
- Healthcare POA/Advance Directives. These are significant health-related documents. A healthcare POA allows your named agent to communicate your wishes to medical professionals if you are unable to do so yourself. They also include instructions as to whether you want to have life-saving measures performed, should you have a cardiac or respiratory arrest. These healthcare documents also remove the need for your family to make difficult decisions for you.
Reference: Winston-Salem Journal (Sep. 20, 2020) “4 Must-Have Documents for a Peaceful Retirement”