When you have a comprehensive estate plan in place, including a trust that is funded, and a will, advance health care directive and power of attorney, you have a solid foundation for determining how you want your care and assets managed in the event of your incapacity or death. But you’re not done.
One may effectively delegate powers to a trustee or agent for power of attorney or healthcare, but those powers become difficult to exercise without access to the information essential to carry out your wishes. The devil, as they say, is in the details. Though you may not wish to share your healthcare decisions or how you want your assets distributed beforehand, you need to at least share the location of your estate planning documents with your successor trustee and agents for healthcare decisions and power of attorney. Doing so will ensure that they may easily locate those documents upon your incapacity or death. In addition, you will want to include a list of your service providers (utilities, housekeeping, lawn care, etc.), insurance companies, financial institutions with account numbers, and usernames and passwords. If there’s a safe deposit box, include the location of that as well.
When our firm prepares an advance health care directive, we include documents that allow you to specify your wishes in regard to the disposition of your remains, whether you’ve made and paid for those arrangements, and details regarding a memorial service. You may elect not to include this information, but understand that your loved ones will then be left to shoulder the responsibility of making those decisions without the benefit of your guidance.
At the time of serious injury or illness rendering you incapacitated, or your death, your loved ones will be dealing with strong emotions, such as shock, grief, sadness or anxiety, while needing to attend to your care or disposition, and the management of your assets. If you’ve planned ahead and communicated the information they need to take care of these tasks, you have taken an essential step in reducing your loved ones’ stress and allowing them more time to process these inevitable transitions.