For 2007, my wife and I are going to start working on an estate plan, just in case something were to happen to one or both of us. Due to a recent death in our family, we have seen the hardship that families go through when nothing is written down in terms of what to do in case of an emergency. Here are some tips that should get you started in creating your own estate plan.
The first thing we are going to do is to draw up a will so that other people will know what our wishes were in case we are not around anymore. This can save a lot of headache with those random family members that always come forward to question what is in the will; if it is on paper, that’s just the way it is, too bad. Also, if you have kids, make sure you appoint a guardian for them, unless you want the state to appoint who should be taking care of them. Not a good thought to think about.
Secondly, and I did this a few years ago, would be to fill out, notarize and give to your doctor a living will or a power of attorney. If you were to become incapacitated, this names the person that will be making the medical decisions for you. I know that in some cases people still fight these (think Terri Schiavo) but in general, it is always good to know who will be making the decisions for me. You can get these forms from your doctor, and all you have to do is fill it out and have it notarized.
Thirdly, we will make sure our beneficiaries are all lined up for insurance and investment accounts. Of course, my wife is on some of my accounts, but we need to make sure that all accounts point to both people (or others) so that in case something happened, someone would still have the ability to access and manage these accounts.
And lastly, we will be sure to document everything we own for insurance purposes. With our video camera and digital still camera, I want to take a snapshot of everything we own and file them away in a safe place. That way, in case something were to happen to any of them, I have proof that I did indeed still own an 8-track player and an Atari 2600. Ok, maybe not, but still…you know what I mean. I don’t want my insurance company fighting me on anything I own when I file for the loss.
If anyone has any other things that we should consider, please, feel free to leave a comment!