Did you know that studies suggest just 8% of people actually achieve their New Year's resolution? Most people have realistic goals. The problem is they don't have a realistic plan in place to achieve those goals. That's not the case here at Murray, Rauzi & Kidwell. We specialize in working with clients to put a plan in place to achieve a specific goal.
Most of us set common resolutions such as losing weight, getting out of debt, eating better, quitting bad habits, etc. But this year, what about taking care of your loved ones? Yes, we're talking about Estate Planning. Not your typical resolution, but it's something everyone should think about and plan for before it's too late.
The attorneys at Murray, Rauzi and Kidwell, can help with your Estate Planning. Our goals for you are simple: avoid Probate Court and ensure the most efficient way to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries. To do this, we always recommend everyone have, at a minimum, four documents in place: 1) Last Will and Testament, 2) Financial (or Durable) Power of Attorney, 3) Health Care Power of Attorney and 4) Living Will.
A Last Will and Testament is a document that sets forth how you would like your assets (both personal and real) to be distributed at your death. So long as you are at least 18 years old, of sound mind and not under any undue influence, you can execute a Last Will and Testament.
A Financial (or Durable) Power of Attorney is a legal document where you (as the Principal) grant authority to another person (your Agent) to act on your behalf with regards to your personal, financial or business affairs. This document is important because if a person is ever declared mentally incompetent and a Financial Power of Attorney has not been signed, the only alternative is to turn to the Probate Court for appointment of a guardian. Going through the Probate Court for guardianship is costly and burdensome. This can be avoided by executing a Financial Power of Attorney.
The last two documents, a Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will, can be lumped together. Much like the Financial Power of Attorney, a Health Care Power of Attorney is a legal document that authorizes another person (your Agent) to obtain your health information and make health care decisions for you. You can allow your agent to get your health information and communicate with health care providers at any time, however, health care decisions can only be made for you when (and if) you cannot make the health care decision for yourself. A Living Will is different from a Health Care Power of Attorney. A Living Will is a legal document you can sign that sets forth your directions about the use (or non-use) of artificial life-sustaining treatment. A Living Will becomes effective only when you cannot communicate your wishes to medical professionals and you are permanently unconscious or terminally ill. A Living Will takes precedence over a Health Care Power of Attorney.
As you begin the New Year, give some thought to your estate plan and the very basics mentioned above. How satisfying would it be to join the 8% of people who achieve their resolution and know your family is protected at the same time? Contact Murray, Rauzi & Kidwell today to set-up your free consultation to discuss your estate plan and how we can put the best plan in place for you and your family.