We all have those items on our to do list that we continue to put off for another day. When it comes to estate planning, it is a lot easier to think that you have plenty of time or that there are things less morbid to think about. Approximately, two-thirds of Americans do not have a will or other crucial estate planning documents, according to a 2021 Caring.com survey. Advanced planning can save time and energy, but most importantly having the correct document ensures that you are the one making your own decisions and your loved ones know what you wanted.

Why is having a will important?

A will is a statement of a person’s wishes as to the disposition of his or her property, to take place or be performed after the person’s death. No matter the size of your estate or your wealth, someone will need to handle your financial affairs after you die, and it will be easier if there is a document spelling things out.

A will is especially important if you have children. Your will should name a guardian for any of your children under the age of 18. The guardian will become legally responsible for looking after your children. If you do not appoint a guardian, it will ultimately be left up to the courts to decide what is in the best interest for your children.

Other important estate planning documents

Besides having a will, you may want to decide whether you want a durable power of attorney and an advance healthcare directive. A durable power of attorney lets you choose someone to handle your business and financial affairs if you become incompetent or unable. An advance healthcare directive allows you to lay out your wishes, in advance, regarding potential healthcare decisions. Be sure to ask your attorney what options you have with the durable power of attorney and advance healthcare directive.

Review, update and organize your paperwork

When major life events happen, it is always a good time to review or update your will. Getting married, having a child, starting a new job, or buying a house can have an impact on your estate planning documents. Sometimes officials are hesitant to accept older forms, so updating your durable power of attorney and an advance healthcare directive every five years, even if its correct, can be helpful.

Keep your documents together in one place, so your family and loved ones can find them, and then tell your spouse or closet family member where that is. Scan all of your important documents to keep a digital copy. The best place to store your original will is in a fireproof box at your house or in your office, or with your lawyer. Some states seal safe-deposit boxes until the estate has been settled. If you choose to store your original will in your safe-deposit box, ask your bank, because it can make settling the estate more difficult without having the original will.

Initial consultations with Burch Law Firm are free. Whether you have a personal injury claim, a workers’ compensation claim, or even a wills and estate issue. And if your legal needs or claims are not something we can handle or we are unable to help with due to conflict, we will refer you to someone who can.