GREENSBORO, N.C. — The ongoing pandemic has made everyone have to face some unpleasant realities, including the idea that one day we won’t be here anymore. Do you know how to make sure your affairs are in order for your loved ones?
We spoke with Dennis Toman, the owner and head attorney for the Elderlaw Firm in Greensboro. He says there are several things you need to consider when it comes to estate planning.
The financial power of attorney is the first thing to consider. This gives someone the ability to make financial decisions on your behalf. They can go into effect whenever you decide. However, most people design them to go into effect once the principal or the person who’s giving the authority dies or otherwise can no longer make decisions for themselves.
Let’s say you get sick and fall into a coma, you don’t just need someone to be able to make financial decisions but medical ones too. A Health Care Power of Attorney will allow someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. A living will is a bit of a more direct route. It can record your wishes about healthcare decisions. The living will goes straight to doctors and medical professionals.
As you know, a will can also layout your decisions for what will happen with your assets once you pass away. However, your property will remain in your name until that happens. A living trust puts the property in a designated person’s name while you’re alive. It may distribute the property more efficiently.
The terms are important, but having conversations are even more important. Sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney and the people you want for these positions. You should be able to answer three fundamental questions. What happens if a person dies? What happens if they become ill and need care? What happens if they get Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia?
Make sure there are carefully written documents to implement the plan. Review it every 3-5 years or when there are changes in health, family, finances or the law. Keep your financial advisor, CPA, or another tax expert in the loop with these plans.
If you’re ready to designate an agent for Health care Power of Attorney, the Elderlaw firm is doing it for free. You can click here for more information.