When you create an estate plan, you must make numerous important decisions. Making some of those decisions may not be easy, but they are necessary. While it may double or triple your “workload,” it is crucial that you include backups – and even backups for your backups – within your estate plan to account for a wide range of possibilities. To better help you understand, the Vero Beach attorneys at Kulas & Crawford discuss the importance of backups in your estate plan.
Estate Planning Decisions
Creating even the most rudimentary estate plan, one that includes only a Last Will and Testament, requires the creator to make several important decisions. For example, you will need to decide who inherits your estate assets and in what proportions or who will get which specific assets. The decisions do not stop there though. You will also need to appoint someone to be the Executor of your estate and, if you have minor children, you should nominate a Guardian for your children in your Will.
If you have a more complex estate plan, there are even more decisions to make and more people to appoint. In a trust, for instance, you need to decide who to appoint as the Trustee of the trust. You also must create the trust terms and decide how to fund the trust.
If you include advance directives in your estate plan, you must appoint someone to be your healthcare Agent to make medical treatment decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. Likewise, an Agent will need to be appointed in a durable Power of Attorney if one is included in your estate plan. Finally, you will need to decide who your designated beneficiaries are for life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial accounts.
Backups in Your Estate Plan
It may seem exhausting to make all these important decisions; however, they are necessary to ensure that your wishes are honored. Moreover, you should include backups for your decisions because an endless number of things can happen between the time you create your plan and the time the plan documents are used that could result in your original decisions being mute. How you incorporate those backups will depend on the document or component, for example:
- Last Will and Testament backups. When you decide how to distribute your estate within your estate plan, your estate planning attorney will likely discuss whether you want to distribute your assets “per stirpes” or “per capita.” This determines whether the share of a deceased beneficiary is spread out among remaining beneficiaries or is inherited by the beneficiary’s heirs. You should also include a second, and even a third choice for Executor and Guardian in case your original choice cannot or will not serve.
- Trust agreement backups. The person you appoint as your Trustee is responsible for administering the trust agreement and, therefore, is ultimately responsible for the success of the trust. Always include a successor Trustee and, for good measure, include criteria for choosing a Trustee if your first and second choice are not available.
- Advance directive backups. The Agent in a Power of Attorney may have to make life and death medical treatment decisions for you. Choose carefully and include a second and third choice to decrease the likelihood of your loved ones ending up in court battling over who can make those decisions for you.
- Designated beneficiary backups. Whether it’s for a life insurance policy or a retirement account, make sure you include a secondary beneficiary because failing to do so could cause the funds involved to become part of your probate estate.
Are You Ready to Create Your Estate Plan?
To learn more, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you would like assistance creating your estate plan, please contact an experienced Vero Beach estate planning attorney at Kulas & Crawford by calling (772) 398-0720 to schedule a consultation.