You should have a durable power of attorney that is less than five years old. If yours is older than that, it’s time to update. The durable power of attorney allows your agent, whom you designate, to step into your shoes and make financial and legal arrangements for you if you are unable to do so yourself. It’s important to have one prepared in case you become incapacitated even temporarily.
You’ve taken the time to gather your information, made decisions about who you want to receive your assets, and who will look after your children should something happen to you. Your attorney has assisted you in preparing your estate planning documents. What now? Where do you keep your documents? Important documents need to be kept somewhere easily accessible so you can grab them with you in a hurry if necessary. Possible locations could be a fire proof safe or a filing cabinet located in your home. No matter what location you choose, let your heirs know where the documents are located. It’s also a good idea to let your attorney know where your originals are kept. Nothing is more bewildering for people than knowing their loved ones made a will and kept it somewhere, but not being able to find it. The same goes for powers of attorney and advanced health care directives. These documents may be needed in an emergency so let your agents know where they are located.
A safe deposit box may not be the best choice to keep the originals of your documents. After you die, your safe deposit box may be sealed for some time, and those who need access to your trust or will may be denied access when they most need it. While you may not want to store your original documents in your safe deposit box, definitely place a copy of your estate planning documents in the box along with other important documents such as a list of your accounts/CD’s/brokerage accounts, titles to your house and car, a list of important passwords, and birth certificates.
San Diego estate planning lawyer Kristen Walton of the Walton Law Firm represents individuals and families in the creation of estate plans, including wills, trusts, powers of attorneys, and advanced health care directives. Call (760) 607-1325 for a free consultation.
Natasha Richardson’s untimely death from a skiing accident at the age of 45 captured the attention of the world. She left behind her husband and two sons, ages 13 and 14. Jade Goody, a young mother in England, died of cervical cancer last weekend leaving behind her two young sons, ages 4 and 5. Ms. Richardson’s passing was unexpected, and her family had little or no time to prepare for her death. Ms. Goody knew she was going to die and talked to her sons about it telling them she would be the brightest star in the night sky.
As parents, we do so much to protect our children from harm, but too few of us plan for the future of our children should harm come to us. It is not an easy subject to think about, but there is comfort of knowing that you can take steps to ease a transition for your children should the unexpected occur. Estate planning is a fundamental part of this process. You may designate the person or people you would like to care for your children by preparing a nomination of guardian form. A trust and will can ensure the avoidance of probate and ensure that your estate will not have to incur the fees associated with probate.
For assistance with preparing your estate plan, contact estate planning attorney Kristen Walton at Walton Law Firm LLP for a free consultation.