Summary: A seasonal treat can help you get into the mindset to tackle your seasonal To Do list. So grab a pumpkin spice latte and work on your three essential estate planning documents: will, power of attorney, and advance directive for health care.
This weekend marks the official beginning of autumn. It is time for cooler weather, college football, fall festivals, Halloween, and of course, the re-introduction of pumpkin spice flavored everything. While the naysayers might be opposed to the occasional pumpkin spice latte (or PSL as it is commonly referred to), these seasonal treats can actually help you with your basic estate planning.
How, might you ask? It is all about the mindset. Many people organize their household and family checklists by season. And fall is a perfect time to add estate planning onto your To Do list. The kids are back at school and it is not quite time to start prepping for the holidays, so you can use this time wisely and knock out some seasonal tasks that you have been meaning to get to. So grab yourself a tall mug of PSL, and let’s discuss the basics.
There are three main estate planning documents that everyone should have in place. These items ensure that provisions are in place your yourself or your loved ones, should you become disabled or pass away. The first essential estate planning document is a Last Will and Testament. This document provides instructions for the distribution of your assets upon your death. The executor of the will, also known as the personal representative, makes sure the individual’s property is passed to the beneficiaries according to his or her final wishes. A will can also be used to designate a guardian for any minor children. For more, read our blog on what wishes you can and cannot memorialize in your will.
Second, a Power of Attorney is an estate planning document that enables a person to act on your behalf, in the event of your disability. A power of attorney can manage affairs including finances, real estate transactions, and other legal decisions. A person can choose when a power of attorney goes into effect (ex: immediately, at a specified date in the future, only under specific circumstances, etc.); however, these powers end at the principle’s death. For more, you can watch our video on the recent changes to Georgia’s Power of Attorney laws.
Third, an Advance Directive for Health Care is a form in which a person lists his or her health care preferences in detail (ex: treatment, medical testing, care options, etc.). It puts family members, doctors and hospitals on notice, and is only used if/when a person is unable to communicate his or her own wishes. For more, you can read part one or part two of our blogs on understanding advance health care directives, or watch our video on how to use an advance directive.
These three documents — a will, power of attorney, and an advance directive for health care — can provide the foundation for an estate plan and help an individual stay in control of their financial, legal, and health decisions. Once you have these key documents in place, be sure to review and update them regularly (perhaps with a different seasonal flavored beverage in hand). For more information about estate planning, contact Atlanta, Georgia estate planning and probate law firm Siedentopf Law at (404) 736-6066. Or, you can make an appointment through our website, EstateLawAtlanta.com.
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