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Estate Planning

In a recent blog, we discussed the necessity of being prepared to serve as someone’s caregiver and having a Caregiving Plan for them. Let us look at it from the other side, are you prepared if something happens to you? Do you have an estate plan in place? Having a plan already developed helps your family too. Some pieces to look at when putting your estate plan together include:

1. A Will: A recent Gallup survey found that 55% of Americans do NOT have a will. A will helps people know how you want to distribute your assets and who will become guardians of your children. If you do not have a will, your estate may end up in probate with someone else making the decisions. 2. Letter of Intent: A will provides the legal directives of your estate, whereas a letter of intent (also called a family love letter) includes a list of your assets with estimates of their market value, wishes for passing down precious heirlooms, funeral instructions and nonprofit organizations you would like to support after you have passed away.

3. Power of Attorney: Your power of attorney gives a specific person of your choosing the authorization to handle financial and legal decisions for you if you can no longer do so. Pick someone you trust that will carry out your wishes, such as a family member or close friend. You can also have more than one person if you wish to split up the responsibilities.

4. Healthcare Needs: Do you have certain wishes for your health if you become incapacitated or pass suddenly? A living will provides specific instructions about your medical care if you can no longer communicate your preferences. A durable medical power of attorney for healthcare agreement authorizes someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.

5. List of Accounts & Passwords: If something happened to you suddenly, would your family members or power of attorney know how to access your accounts? Make sure you write down the links, usernames and passwords of different accounts you access online, such as your health insurance, bank accounts, retirement accounts and even social media accounts to help your family be better prepared in an emergency.

We know it is hard to think about these things for yourself or someone else but this way if something happens unexpectedly, you have these important documents in place. As a caregiver, you want to know these things ahead of time too, so make sure you prepare your family members as well to become your caregiver. Then they can carry out your wishes. If you have any questions concerning your financial accounts and your estate, please give us a call!

Sterling Financial Management and LPL Financial do not provide legal advice or services. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.

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