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Estate Planning: Are Your Ducks in a Row?

Few people think, "Hey, I want to write my will today!" It's the ugly duckling of things you should have in order. I'd wager that estate planning ranks a long third after investing and insurance. No offense, CFPs or insurance salespersons, but we don't like saving money and we don't like betting against ourselves. I'm most confident we don't like the idea of dying.

There's a lot on the line, however, if you don't get your ducks in a row. Intestacy statutes (i.e., laws that govern the distribution of your estate if you don't have a will) and out-of-date documents can cause some serious problems after you pass away (think: litigation among family members). Failure to designate guardians might leave the matter of the custodian of your minor child/ren to a judge. It may leave the difficult work of posthumous gifts and property transfers in the hands of a bereaved spouse ill-equipped for whatever reason to administer a complicated estate when another relative would do.

Then you have less final matters - like powers of attorney or agency nominations. If you're temporarily disabled, can someone do the business of your estate? If you are temporarily incompetent, does someone know how to advise your treating physician? If your incompetency becomes permanent, have you nominated a guardian? And have you made your wishes regarding your life-sustaining care known in the event that your condition becomes irreversible?

Don't leave these questions open-ended. Complete your planning for rainy days by complementing retirement planning and insurance with a solid estate plan. Contact an attorney and, at a minimum, get a simple will and a durable medical power of attorney in place. Consider a power of attorney. Certainly, make your wishes known with respect to a living will.

Get your ducks in a row.

John C. Kaspar, Esq., GRAY AND DUNING, (513) 932-2871.

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