What can go wrong if not prepared:
Here are some things to get done: (we can help you with these)
Have a Plan for Incapacity
Create your own Advance Directive for health care, which is basically the combination of a living will & a medical POA. Then designate a primary and secondary health care agent to carry out your wishes, and make decisions on your behalf. You can download Advance Directive forms for your state from several websites, or we can help you with that process as part of the services we provide.
Have someone you trust designated as your Power of Attorney for finances.
In general, a durable POA is better than a springing POA. Also, in the state of Texas, one will need two witnesses OR a notary for a valid Power of Attorney. As we are still in an ongoing pandemic, it is important to know that many of these forms can be notarized remotely (online).
Another item to prepare would be a “Grab & Go” envelope that has a copy of all the relevant information that loved ones would need in case of a medical emergency. This may come in handy as you are headed to the hospital, in case you become unable to speak for yourself at some point during your hospital stay.
While You’re at it . . . Plan for other Family Members
Folks with children that are 18 years old (especially if they are in college) should consider obtaining a HIPPA release (also known as an Authorization to Disclose Protected Health Information), and have their children sign this form. This will allow the parent or guardian to know the condition of their children should they wind up in a hospital following an accident or some other calamity.
Here are some websites, that you may find helpful:
www.fivewishes.org Website that helps you with Advance Care Planning
www.nhpco.org for TX National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization
www.mydirectives.com Website that helps you with Advance Directives
https://med.stanford.edu/letter/friendsandfamily.html Website that helps you write a letter to loved ones
Make it easy on your spouse or children
Give them access to important papers and passwords
Help them know what to do first (pets, mail, etc.)
Provide special instructions and explanations for your decisions
Determine if your estate will be subject to estate taxes. There is no State Inheritance or Estate Tax in Texas, so people residing in Texas will not have to worry about that. However, other states’ inheritance tax may apply to you if someone who resides in leaves you money. Also, there is a Federal Estate Tax for large estates.
Identify property so you’ll know how to allocate it among beneficiaries.
Think about the people you love and the causes you care about.
Consider contingencies and special circumstances. Such as:
What if my spouse dies first?
Divided equally among kids, or according to need?
What about grandchildren, or other friends or relatives?
Do you have a child that you don’t feel is ready to handle an inheritance?
Do you need to provide for a special-needs child?
Prepare your beneficiaries for their inheritance – this is the time to talk to your spouse and kids.
Work with advisors to put your wishes in writing.
Some estates are simple, some are complicated – it’s best to work with an Estate Planning attorney.
Attorneys can make you aware of possibilities and contingencies you didn’t know about
Monitor and update your plan . . . things change, and so will your plan.
Working together, we can develop a plan. We can help you establish goals and a timetable for implementing them.
Legacy planning is not hard . . . You just have to get started. Here are a couple of calculators (also found elsewhere on this website—along with other helpful calculators):
What Is My Life Expectancy?
What Is My Current Net Worth?