Part II: Essential Estate Planning for Baby Boomers

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Part I: Essential Estate Planning for Baby Boomers

Estate planning is a topic most people tend to avoid. Creating a will, trust, and other vital end of life documents often seems complex, cumbersome, and overwhelming. Further, the task requires turning to unpleasant thoughts such as death and the distribution of one’s assets. The perceived ugliness involved in estate planning leads to continual procrastination on implementing any estate planning strategies. One survey recently conducted by the U.S. Trust found that nearly 30% of all those involved in the study did not have any kind of estate plan.

Though creating an estate plan can involve some time and consideration as to difficult subjects, it is absolutely vital in furtherance of your legacy. Without an estate plan, the pain your loved ones will already experience upon your death will be further rocked by the upheaval of their financial life. The following is the first part of our list of essential estate planning strategies. While these plans are applicable to all generations, they are of particular magnitude to the aging baby boomer generation.

1. Create a trust or a will—this is often the first and most important step in estate planning. While it may seem obvious to draft a will, a shocking number of Americans fail to do so before it is too late. A will dictates who will receive your assets upon your death. It can also set out your wishes for guardianship over your minor children in the event both you and your spouse perish. It is important to remember, however, that a will does not avoid probate. Your last testament will go through the probate process, but generally the timeframe will be far shorter than for those who die intestate, or without a will. In addition to or instead of a will, you can set up a trust. There are a multitude of different types of trusts, and a qualified estate planning attorney can advise you on the one best suited to your needs. One of the most popular and easiest to create is a revocable living trust. This trust allows your assets to avoid the costly, time-consuming probate process. It will also follow you across state lines, making it ideal for those who own property in multiple states. Whichever you chose, the important thing is that you create a will or trust today. In the absence of these crucially important documents, disposition of your hard-earned assets will be done according strictly to state law, which can lead to undesirable outcomes.

2. Create a durable power of attorney—in addition to preparing for your eventual death, it is essential to anticipate the possibility you may become incapacitated and unable to make critical decisions as to your finances. A durable power of attorney allows you to select someone who you trust to manage your assets in the event of your physical or mental incapacity. Most often, an adult child is selected, but the decision is yours to make.

3. Create a durable health care power of attorney—related to a general power of attorney, a health care power of attorney enables a trusted family member or friend to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. For instance, if you were rushed into surgery and a decision had to be made as to an additional procedure, the individual authorized in your durable power of attorney would be able to issue a resolution to the doctor’s request. Your health care agent should be someone that you trust to have your best interests at heart.

At Scott Law Group, PLC, we understand the vital significance of creating an estate plan. We view estate planning as far more than just dictating who receives what when you pass away—to us, estate planning is synonymous with legacy planning. Your estate plan represents a significant piece of the overall legacy you leave behind. To this end, we vow to do all we can to help you create a lasting legacy. Call us today at (727) 754-5001 for a free consultation.