Estate Plan Now to Avoid Pain Later
Estate planning is not just an important step to take in seeing that one’s final wishes are met, it is also a kindness performed for the surviving loved ones.
Attorney Chris Woodard, co-founder of Woodward Law Group, says that by taking a handful of essential steps now, you can secure comfort and peace of mind for those who will enact those plans after you’re gone.
With that in mind, the COVID-19 pandemic led to an executive order from the governor's office allowing for remote notarization and witnessing when it comes to estate planning documentation. Woodard says that's beneficial when considering the mobility of some elderly people or their remote locations in a rural state.
"There are potential bills in place that could make that permanent," Woodard says, "Which would be really nice to make it easier to potentially have access to estate planning."
Woodard recommends a series of basic steps in estate planning.
► Power of attorney. Having someone authorized to navigate legal questions, administer wills and handle other legal matters can help a family avoid unnecessary expenses and proceedings after a loss.
► Living wills. These address end-of-life issues like the life support question and funeral details, sparing the survivors doubt and uncertainty about the decisions.
► Wills vs. trusts. You may need to think about guardianships for children or naming beneficiaries of an inheritance. A trust will be administered without court supervision by a trustee you designate. A will must be probated and administered by an executor, which could have legal costs attached.
► Review. Once you’ve done your estate planning, return to it every time there is a major change in your life. A divorce or death might mean you need to change the beneficiary of an insurance policy, 401(k) or bank account balance, for example.