Courtesy Joseph Mecca Law Firm
Estate planning should not be a scary process if you keep it simple. The fundamentals of having the following basic documents:
The Last Will and Testament, the Durable Power of Attorney, the “Living Will”, the Funeral Representative, and the Family Trust. Most people know they need to have a Will not because they are very wealthy or have complicated finances. Most gifting can be done by naming direct beneficiaries on bank accounts, brokerage accounts, IRAs, and 401(k) and the like. None of that needs to be listed in a Last Will and Testament. However, there are always assets that need to go through probate and the Will also appoints an executor, the person who takes charge of the estate. Good estate planning always involves a Will, even in situations where everything belonging to the individual is put in trust. The Durable Power of Attorney (POA) is essential. It provides for the immediate needs of those individuals who become either mentally or physically disabled, permanently or even temporarily. The most common POA is the “springing power” that takes effect only when your doctor determines that you are no longer capable of handling affairs. Naming an individual to act as your “Power of Attorney” is essential. That person must be willing to serve, cognizant of your needs both personal, and financial, respectful of your family, and strong willed enough to make tough decisions. A good POA covers everything you used to do for yourself before becoming disabled. The Advance Directive focuses on end-of-life decisions. Most people say they do, but they do not carry it with them. The Living Will basically turns over decision making to a trusted individual to decide the use of extraordinary means to keep you alive. This person must be strong willed and prepared to make some very tough decisions. The Funeral Representative and Family Trust is a more complicated way of dealing with estate planning. For some families, it works and for others it does not. It requires giving up some of your freedom and your ability to make decisions involving your very own assets and liabilities. In next month’s column, we will discuss the Funeral Representatives and Family Trust more thoroughly, its pros and cons.
Joseph A. Mecca, Esq., P.C.
NJ & NY BAR
362 Union Boulevard, Totowa, NJ 07512