It's best to complete your estate planning now, rather than later. You never know when you're going to take your last breath, and if you're still without an estate plan, it can cause low-lying anxiety and stress to think that your family members could be left in a difficult situation if you die.
To gain the peace of mind that your loved ones will be taken care of, you'll want to make sure that your estate plan has the following components:
- Last will and testament: Your will dictates what will happen to your personal possessions after you're gone. Your will also indicates who will be the caretakers of your children in the event of your death.
- Living trust: A living trust is an optional estate planning document that can be used if you have a large estate and you're worried about the tax consequences associated with the transfer of your assets. A living trust can also help to protect your assets as you grow older so that you can receive government benefits without depleting your savings. Finally, your living trust will allow your heirs to avoid probate proceedings
- Incapacity documents: Living wills and powers of attorney are incapacity documents that allow you to indicate someone who will handle your affairs and take care of decisions for you in the event that you become too ill to make decisions for yourself relating to health care and financial concerns.
- Emergency information: Every estate plan needs to include a list of all your bank, financial, insurance and other accounts -- in addition to online accounts and passwords for your digital information -- so that your family members can access this information when necessary.
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Release: Your medical records cannot be released to your spouse automatically, but signing a HIPAA Release that allows your spouse access to medical records solves this potentially difficult challenge if you become incapacitated.
Do you have questions about what to include in your estate plan? A Newport Beach estate attorney can offer the information and guidance you need.