Astoundingly, only 40% of adults in the U.S. have Wills. Whatever your wealth or family circumstances, you should have a Last Will and Testament. And it should be part of an overall plan, considering the following:
1. A Will, with designated beneficiaries to receive your assets upon death, and an Executor to carry out your directions.
2. Trusts, when appropriate, to manage and protect the inheritance and stipulate any conditions. The trust can be created in the Will or in a separate document. Discuss with your attorney which is most advantageous for you.
3. A Health Care Proxy, with a designated Health Care Agent to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them yourself and to provide your family with directions regarding extraordinary medical care.
4. A Power of Attorney naming an agent to make legal, financial, and business decisions for you. This will help avoid the cost and delay of court proceedings in the event you are incapacitated.
5. Appointment of Guardians, both in your Will and with a standby designation, for any children with disabilities or minors, in the event of your death, incapacity, or absence.
Whether you’re creating a multimillion-dollar trust for your grandchildren or just making sure your house is evenly divided among your children, don’t put off your Will. Don’t let the courts and the default provisions in the law determine you and your family’s future. Be proactive and create a good estate plan. The time to plan for tomorrow is today.
James F. Burdi, Esq. is a partner in Vishnick McGovern Milizio LLP’s Trusts and Estates and Elder Law Practices. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (516) 437-4385.