Estate Planning and Business Law Blog
Eugene & Lane County, Oregon
Estate Planning Procrastination
This morning I heard the following story on NPR:
It is a heart-wrenching story of sudden loss...but not an unfamiliar story. Just recently I know of two awful stories of sudden loss of a loved one and tragic severe injury suffered while traveling. These are the type of accidents that we can never truly prepare ourselves for.
However, from a legal perspective, there are a few simple steps we can take to drastically reduce the heavy burden that could befall our loved ones. That is, if we don't procrastinate.
The NPR story touches on a many important items, but the basic estate plan should include:
1. A Will of Living Trust: Wills do not have to be overly complicated, but can provide crucial instructions. A competent estate planning attorney can help you understand if you need a simple will or something more...or no will at all.
2. A Power of Attorney: A Power of Attorney is a critical document for protecting your assets during your lifetime. The Power of Attorney provides for someone to manage your assets if you are unable to do so. But note, a Power of Attorney is a very "powerful" document and so I recommend that you consult with an attorney prior to signing one.
3. Advance Directive: In Oregon, the state has created the Advance Directive form as a type of living will so that your family and your doctor know your health care wishes even if you are unable to express them. This is a state form, easy to find, and should be a part of any basic estate plan.
Finally, BE ORGANIZED. When I meet with clients to prepare their estate plans, half of the battle is just getting organized: locating account numbers, checking beneficiaries on life insurance and IRAs, and identifying debts. Having an ongoing inventory of your assets and liabilities can make all the difference in saving your loved ones from complicated headaches and court costs that will far exceed some basic planning now.
Talking about death does not have to be scary or daunting. We should be talking about our own wishes and making our aging parents talk about their plans and wishes. By putting these issues into the open, we can make a plan to remove the burden that otherwise just hangs over us - a truly unnecessary burden.
Find an estate planning attorney and get information. Determine if cheaper self-help options are for you or if you need professional assistance. And if you call me and mention this blog post, I'll give you a free estate planning consultation. Just don't procrastinate any longer!