As Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and the winter holidays approach, you might be daydreaming about a skiing trip to Mammoth or a Hawaiian vacation to escape the cold. Or you might be savoring (or, perhaps, less then eagerly anticipating) the thought of reconnecting with your extended family, who’s typically scattered across the country. Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile, take the time to engage with your estate plans, as outlined blow, to reduce uncertainty, enjoy peace of mind, and concentrate on what really matters.
- Draft Health Care Directives and Power of Attorney
If you become sick or suffer an injury while on vacation, and you can no longer make medical decisions, a health care directive designates someone you trust to make those decisions for you. Similarly, power of attorney allows another person, usually your spouse or a close family member or friend, to handle your financial affairs. If you do not have these documents in place, your family will need to file a request with the court to choose this person for you, a process that can take considerable time and expense. In addition, traveling out of state or out of the country further complicates matters, since decisions may need to be made in that location, and conflicting state or international laws may apply.
- Create a Living Trust or Will
You want a legally binding written expression of your wishes for how to distribute your assets and to whom. A living trust offers several advantages over a will; for instance, it can help your estate avoid a costly, lengthy probate process. In either event, this instrument should specify who will care for your children and manage their affairs, how your business assets and projects should be handled, and so forth. If you do not leave instructions, the state will make decisions with no consideration for your wishes.
- Establish a Homestead Declaration
A homestead declaration states that your principal residence is your residence, and no one can file a lawsuit or a judgment against it up to $500,000. For instance, imagine you’re away on holiday travel, and some neighborhood kids fool around on your lawn and get badly hurt. The parents sue, and you lack the insurance to cover the damages. This declaration can shield the equity you’ve built up in the home up to $500,000.
Before you gear up for your vacation, call the estate planning attorneys at ILP+ Arkansas at (800) 827-7784 for insight into effective practices to preserve your wealth, guard against contingencies and enjoy a low stress holiday season.