With colleges reopening and young adults heading off to college, now is a good time to think about estate planning for both the parents and students. Though, many times, the idea of estate planning, or even updating an estate plan, can be daunting. In reality, it is a fairly straight forward process that does not always cost a lot of money.
The basic document
First, everyone 18 and up needs a will because this is document that outlines what one wants to happen to them and their stuff when they pass, including naming a guardian for minor children. It also names who is responsible for making sure it happens. Basic forms can usually be found on state websites or from an attorney for relatively little money.
Power of attorney
Next, everyone needs a power of attorney for health care and finances because a will does not activate until death. For a power of attorney though, it activates when someone becomes incapacitated. This could be as a result of an injury, disease, age, etc. For a health care power of attorney, it appoints a person to make medical decisions. On the other hand, a financial power of attorney appoints a person to make financial decisions for them. The same person can do both or different people for both. Think about whether the lights would stay on if one was in a comma, or if there are bills that would need to be canceled if one was not using them. Extended periods in a hospital can drain bank accounts not just from medical bills, but also reoccurring bills that should have been canceled. Sometimes, both forms can be found at their respective institutions, like hospitals and banks.
Living trust agreements
Depending on one’s situation, a living trust agreement may be needed, and depending on one’s membership level at their bank, these may also be available. Though, generally, a lawyer will be needed for these documents to ensure they are legally enforceable. A trust can help keep matters private, avoid some taxes, avoid probate after death and can appoint a trustee to handle financial matters, if one is incapacitated. But, as with all legal matters, each Cummings, Georgia, estate plan will look different.