What will you do with this New Year you’ve been given? Perhaps you would like to lose weight, change jobs, travel, or dedicate time to a special project. Regardless of age or present life situation, think of the possibilities this New Year brings.
Did you know that the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh painted most of his famous works in the later years of his life, notwithstanding suffering from mental illness? Illustrating life’s possibilities and challenges, Van Gogh stated, “the fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”
To enhance possibilities, and conquer challenges, preparation is key. Preparation may include creating an inventory of present assets, goals, relationships, realities and documents; then developing an estate and action plan.
Generally, all planning should begin with an Inventory Packet. You can download your free Inventory Packet here.
The Inventory Packet is a guide used to list assets, state where assets are held, define preferences and relationships. Once completed, the Inventory Packet will aid in deciding what type of estate documents are needed. The Inventory packet should be kept with the estate documents.
Goals, Relationships and Realities
Difficult questions must be answered in order to complete the Inventory Packet. For example, what are your long-term goals? Where would you choose to reside as you age? What does retirement look like for you? Will you travel? Will you continue to work? Do you have long term care insurance?
The Inventory packet should also address the possibility of nursing home living. At the very least, decide whom or where you would reside in the event you are no longer able to live on your own. Further, know the level of services available in the community where you plan to reside. This will help to ensure the programs offered will meet your aging needs.
Develop an Estate and Action Plan
After the Inventory Packet has been completed, it is time to develop an estate and action plan. A basic estate plan should contain the completed Inventory Packet, a Will, a Power of Attorney, and a Living Will.
Legally, a properly drafted Will requires the following. You must be at least eighteen years old and of sound mind. The Will should be type written and have at least one provision for disposal of your assets.
When selecting a Power of Attorney, choose carefully. The best candidate for this position should be trustworthy, levelheaded and live close by. It is not always the eldest child and there is no legal requirement for a Power of Attorney to be a family member. It should be someone you trust, as this person will gain access to all your financial holdings and in some instances be able to make decisions as to where you will reside and under what conditions.
A Living Will determines under what conditions you may or may not wish your life to be prolonged by artificial means. The type of care you want to receive should be coordinated with your physicians, to make sure your wishes and the doctors are compatible.
Other estate planning tools may include Trusts, a Care Agreement, a Deed Transfer, Insurance, Funeral Arrangements, to name a few.
Once the Inventory Packet and other estate documents have been completed, implement your plan of action for the New Year. Remember: a carefully documented estate and action plan will help to prepare you for life’s voyages ahead!
Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner will discuss “Housing Choices that make dollars and sense.” Victoria M. Dalton is a dedicated Family/Elder Law Attorney with the Law Offices of Hoffman DiMuzio. Email correspondence to [email protected] or call 856-845-8243.
Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational article about the law and is not legal advice.