A Check-Up of Your Incapacity & End-of-Life Plans
If you do not have a valid Will or Trust, then South Carolina law will determine how your assets pass, to whom they pass, and when they pass. In such a situation, your estate can be subject to unnecessary delays and expenses and can result in perhaps the most costly and emotionally draining way to pass assets to your loved ones.
Even if you do have a Will or Trust in place, reading the following questions may indicate that your current plan may need to be updated:
1. Has your Will or Trust been professionally reviewed in the last few years?
2. Does your current health care power of attorney permit the person of your choosing (spouse, child, or other person) to make emergency health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so?
3. Does your estate plan include a customized plan for determining if you are mentally disabled?
4. Does your current estate plan give instructions for your care and the care of your loved ones in the event of your disability? For example, if your elderly parent is living with you, what would happen to them if you became incapacitated?
5. If you have a Revocable “Living” Trust as part of your estate plan, is your trust fully funded so your family can avoid the delay and expense of “living” and “death” probate?
6. Have you planned to avoid possible will contests and disputes during the administration of your estate?
7. If you have minor children, at a bare minimum, does your plan create a trust for your children when you pass to prevent your children from inheriting your assets at age 18 (think of life insurance proceeds alone!)? If you do have a plan that creates a trust when you die, do your life insurance policies and retirement plans name that trust as either the primary or contingent beneficiary?
8. Have you recently checked the beneficiary designations of your retirement plans and life insurance policies, and are you confident that you have NOT listed your estate or any minor children as either primary or secondary beneficiaries?
9. Does your plan provide creditor and lawsuit protection for assets you leave to your surviving spouse, once he or she inherits your assets?
10. Does your estate plan protect your children's inheritance in the event your surviving spouse chooses to remarry?
11. Does your current estate plan provide creditor and lawsuit protection for assets passed to your children, once they inherit your assets?
12. Are you satisfied with the persons you named as guardians and trustees for your minor children?
13. Are you confident that your personal representative/power of attorney/successor trustee is prepared to act on your behalf when asked?
14. Are the people appointed to act for you in your estate planning documents (Personal Representative, Power of Attorney, etc.) aware of their appointments and do they know where your original documents are located?
15. Most people do not realize that not everything passes according to your Will or Trust, such as life insurance and retirement plans – are these assets coordinated to align with your Will or Trust?
16. Will your family members or other people winding up your affairs after you pass be able to easily locate information regarding the assets that you own?
17. Do you have a child with special needs and if so, is your plan designed to not disqualify your child from continuing to receive governmental benefits, after they inherit from you?
IF YOU ANSWERED ONE OR MORE OF THE QUESTIONS ABOVE WITH A “NO” OR AN “I’M NOT SURE,” THEN YOU SHOULD STRONGLY CONSIDER MEETING WITH A QUALIFIED ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY TO REVIEW YOUR CURRENT ESTATE PLAN.
Contact Hamrick Law in Greenville, SC for estate planning and business planning!