Estate Planning: 4 Things We Should Do

estate planning

‘Tis the season, for lists! So, here are four things we’re calling the “do’s” of estate planning:

(1) Have Powers of Attorney in Place: If our clients leave our office with nothing else in place, we recommend all our clients have a financial power of attorney and a New Hampshire Advance Directive (formerly known as a health care power of attorney). These two documents are essential elements of estate planning and can avoid court in the event you become disabled. A financial power of attorney allows you to appoint a person you trust to handle your affairs while you are alive and unable to handle them yourself. In an Advance Directive, you appoint a person you trust to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated.

(2) Keep Good Records: The most well-thought-out estate plan can be rendered meaningless if your future decision-makers don’t know what assets you have or how to access them. Keeping up-to-date copies of your estate planning documents, recent statements for your bank accounts or retirement accounts, and passwords in a safe place where your agents can find them is something that is essential to execute your plans especially in moments of crisis.

(3) Communicate Your Wishes with Your Loved Ones: An estate plan is only as good as its execution. We have all heard the stories of how families fight over homes, money, and personal belongings, but what we should understand is that a good number of those fights are preventable. Communicating while you are alive, with your loved ones and on paper about what will be expected of them can greatly minimize conflict. For example, if you have three children and have only appointed one of them as your health care agent, it is important to talk to all three children about what you want if you become incapacitated and can’t make decisions yourself.

(4) Consult with a Specialized Professional: When a pipe bursts, most people call a plumber. When a person has a heart issue, that person consults with a cardiologist. The same is true when it comes to establishing an estate plan. Having someone with a specialized focus in estate planning and elder law will provide you and your family with the best result when it relates to your estate plan.