It’s important to be prepared for whatever the future might hold. This is one of the reasons why some people are drawn to a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or “life plan community”), which offers access to a full continuum of care services that may be needed in the future. Preparing for life’s “what ifs” also includes creating and maintaining up-to-date estate planning documents.
Here are a few of the most important documents that you should ensure you have created:
A will provides direction on how your money and property should be distributed when you die. Under a will, the distribution of your assets must go through a legal process called probate, which validates the authenticity of the will, inventories and appraises the associated property, pays out any debts and/or taxes, and finally, distributes the remaining assets based on the directions within the will.
In many ways, a trust has a lot in common with a will—providing direction on how you want your estate to be distributed after you pass—but a trust also provides guidance on managing of your assets should you experience any periods of incapacity during your lifetime. When you die, a trust typically circumvents the probate process, making your assets available to your beneficiaries more quickly.
Power of attorney is assigned by a “principal” (you) to an “attorney-in-fact,” also known as an “agent” or “proxy,” giving that person legal authority to make decisions should you become mentally or physically incapacitated. The attorney-in-fact can be a spouse/partner, adult child, relative, or friend, but most important: It should be someone you trust to act in your best interest with all the decisions they make on your behalf.
Should you become terminally ill, seriously injured, in a coma, in the final stages of dementia, or near the end of your life, advance directives provide written guidance to help steer the care choices made by healthcare providers and other caregivers. Typically, the more specific you are with your wishes, the better.
There are of course other important planning documents that you may have, such as a life insurance policy, a 401(k), or IRA. While it is wonderful to have taken the steps necessary to create these planning documents, there’s another task that should not be overlooked: maintenance—periodic review of the terms you have set forth within your documents, including beneficiaries and designees.
Some people will advise you to do an annual review of your plans for your estate, and this is sound guidance, however, there are several other milestones and events that also should trigger a review of these legal documents:
While no one can be certain what tomorrow will hold, you can take control of your future by creating several important legal planning documents including a will or trust, a power of attorney, and a living will. However, once you have created your documents, it is crucial that you review them on a regular basis—or when you experience one of the milestones above—to ensure they still reflect your wishes.
It's important to plan for the future no matter where you see yourself. Protect yourself and your family with updated documents along with the security of wonderful living and gracious aging. At Falcons Landing, residents take the extra step to ensure their future is exactly what they envision with our continuum of care. We welcome you to learn more about our continuum of care which meets you wherever you are on life's journey.
The above article is provided by myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.