Putting your legal affairs in order is the best gift you can give to you and your family in the New Year. Unfortunately it is hard to predict if and when we might be incapacitated and not capable of handling our own affairs, including caring for our children, or if and when we cannot make medical decisions for ourselves. While commonly called “estate planning” – putting your legal house in order is more then just having a will that says who gets your assets upon death. Certain documents apply to you while you are living and provide critical guidance to loved ones. Your essential legal documents should include:
A Will or a Pour Over Will with Revocable Trust.
If you have children – your will is where you specify any chosen Guardian(s). Depending on the complexity of the estate and assets – a simple Will may suffice or alternatively, a Pour Over Will might be advisable in conjunction with a Revocable Trust. One really nice thing about updating your will or putting one in place is that it forces you to take inventory of your assets including digital assets (like PayPal) and put in place an instruction system for your Executor to find and access everything.
A General Power of Attorney.
This document indicates who will manage your affairs if you are not able to do so – this can include paying bills, depositing checks, transferring assets, signing legal documents and the like. Many military personnel fully understand the utility of a General Power of Attorney when they need a spouse or other family member or friend to handle their affairs while deployed.
An Advanced Medical Directive and Living Will with Organ-Tissue Designation.
These can be separate documents but oftentimes are combined. If you are incapacitated due to an accident or illness or if you undergoing a medical procedure during which you cannot make medical decisions for yourself, it is essential to designate in advance who will make medical decisions for you. It also is important to have a Living Will to specify as which point you no longer would want to be kept artificially alive and whether you want any of your organs or tissues donated to others or used for research. The Advanced Medical Directive now can be registered in Virginia on line at www.virginiaregistry.org.
In Virginia, another document often prepared is a Burial Designation. Whether included in your Living Will or Burial Designation, spelling out your life end plans in advance will give your loved ones more guidance should you pass away. Resolve to set out your wishes in advance – whether you prefer cremation with a beach BBQ celebration or an open casket reception and church service. And by putting your legal house in order you will kick off a great start to the New Year!
This article provides general information only. For more details please be sure to contact an attorney. Locke & Quinn provides estate planning and other personal legal services. Article provided by Colleen M. Quinn, Esq. at https://plus.google.com/+LockeQuinnColleenMQuinnRichmond/about.