By Libby Banks,
The Law Office of Libby Banks, PLLC
Many people think estate planning does not apply to them because they “don’t have an estate to plan.” But the dictionary says an estate is “all of the things that a person owns.” We all have an estate. For many of us, it includes our home, our IRA, our bank account, vehicles, and maybe even stock or brokerage accounts. For a young couple with minor children, the biggest asset to plan for may be a life insurance policy.
Estate Planning is More than Distributing What You Own at Your Death
A good portion of estate planning is planning for the distribution of property at death. But you also need a plan in case you become incapacitated. Who will manage your assets and your financial affairs if you can’t? Who will make decisions about your healthcare? With proper planning, you decide that ahead of time, and assure that the right person can quickly take charge and see that you and your finances are taken care of while you are out of commission.
The Durable General Power of Attorney for finances is a key document in any plan. In truth, every adult 18 or over should execute one and appoint an agent who could handle any financial or legal matters during incapacity. You may be thinking, “Even my 18-year-old child?” Yes, because now that child of yours is an adult and you don’t automatically get to handle legal matters for them any longer. For instance, even if you paid their tuition at college, they are the ones who will have to request a refund of the tuition if needed. If they are incapacitated for a time and not able to return to school, you won’t get that money back right away – unless you’re the agent under a durable power of attorney.
This applies to you, of course. Part of your plan must be to execute a power of attorney to appoint someone to handle a lawsuit, deal with an IRS audit, or sign tax returns, talk to mortgage or insurance companies, and more. It applies to your elderly parent, too. Mom may be living with you and have minimal assets, but if you try to call Social Security or Medicare for her, they won’t discuss matters with you unless you have a power of attorney.
Learn More About Estate Planning
I offer a complimentary initial consultation to discuss your situation and what I recommend for you. You can request an appointment by calling us at 602-375-6752 or scheduling at my website, libbybanks.com/schedule-estate-planning-meeting.