In Part I of Essential Estate Planning for Baby Boomers, we highlighted the importance of 1) creating a will or trust; 2) creating a durable power of attorney; and 3) setting up a health care power of attorney. Below is the continuation of our list of the most crucial estate planning strategies for the boomer generation:
- Draft advance directives—there are several types of advance directives, and all involve your medical care. A living will is used to specify what kind of life-sustaining treatments or surgeries you want or do not want performed. For instance, you can elect to be removed from ventilation in the event you fall into a coma. You could also set out time frames for the use of mechanical ventilation and nutritional assistance, requiring, for example, these efforts be ceased after 60 days. Setting out such advance directives can be a great kindness to loved ones who may otherwise experience great stress attempting to make such difficult decisions. You may also create a DNRO or Do Not Resuscitate Order. This document requests that no resuscitative techniques be used in the event of respiratory or cardiac arrest. Absent this document, doctors are required to attempt resuscitation.
- Ensure the correct beneficiary is listed on your life-insurance policies, retirement accounts, and bank accounts—under state law, some assets will automatically pass to the listed beneficiary regardless of the dictates of your will. Most notably, this includes life insurance policies. Scenarios often arise where individuals fail to remove their former spouse as the designated beneficiary of their life insurance policy and a courtroom battle ensues. Similarly, many people place the majority of their assets in retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs. Here, the beneficiary designation is crucial. All baby boomers, and even the younger generations, should double check beneficiaries on these important documents and accounts to ensure that which they worked hard to earn goes the desired individuals.
- Create an estate plan for the whole family—estate planning is not solely about you. One of your first tasks should be to ensure your aging parents have taken all the essential estate planning steps set out in Parts I and II of this series. Elderly parents should have a will or trust in place, power of attorneys for both financial and health matters, and advance directives. These acts will help ensure you are not making heartbreaking end of life decisions and your parents hard-earned assets go to those they care about. Do not forget about your children when it comes to estate planning either. If your child is seriously injured while away at college, for instance, you need the legal right to act on his or her behalf. Ensure your children have a health-care proxy, even if further estate planning such as a will is unnecessary at this stage.
Estate planning is tough. There is no doubt that it will evoke much emotion and involve some difficult decisions. But the alternative of not creating an estate plan is far worse. Without a comprehensive estate plan in place, you will have no control over who receives your assets, how your finances are managed, and what end of life care you receive. Furthermore, your family may be left grappling with end of life decisions that they are entirely unprepared to make, and in total financial upheaval following your death. The better course of action is clear. Creating an estate plan today can save your family much pain and expense.
At Scott Law Group, PLC, we truly care about each of our clients and strive to ensure they receive the finest of legal services available in the state of Florida. With over 18 years experience, attorney Sean D. K. Scott can expertly guide you through the estate planning process to create directives that will ensure your families well-being. Call us today (727) 754-5001 for a free consultation.