An Estate Plan is a plan that puts all of a person’s affairs in order should they pass away or become incapacitated. It draws a very specific map for the survivors to follow in regards to financial assets, medical decisions, beneficiary designation, and much more! Or in my case, my beneficiaries will receive an actual treasure map, whereby they must go on an Indiana Jones-style treasure hunt, with boulders and poison-tipped darts.
One benefit of an Estate Plan is the ability to create a Will, which allows for designation of Beneficiaries and Guardians (the people who will take care of your children if you die.) I still have not heard back from Oprah Winfrey, which brings me to the point that the Guardian(s) you select should be aware and willing to take your children (which is why I sent Oprah a letter in the first place.)
Another benefit to an Estate Plan is the ability to create a Trust. Putting your assets through probate court eats away at your money and delays payment to your beneficiaries by months and sometimes even years! A Trust allows you to avoid probate court, saving your estate lots of money and time. More importantly though, it designates a Trustee to distribute your assets according to your wishes. The Trustee cannot, however, stop the beneficiaries from throwing away your vintage “We Are the World” vinyl once it is left to them.
You can also designate a Financial Power-of-Attorney to make any financial decisions if you become incapacitated. I’ve discussed this in a previous article, but in summary no one has ever asked me to be a Financial Power-of-Attorney because I aspire to someday have my own expensive Jim Henson-type creature lab.
Another benefit of an Estate plan is the ability to create a Healthcare Power-of-Attorney. This names a person who will make all of the medical decisions if you are unable to do so. I tried to make my oldest brother my Healthcare Power-of-Attorney halfway through my 21st birthday party, but I’m pretty sure the bar napkin I wrote it on wouldn’t have stood up in court.
Elliott explained that a Living Will can also be created to declare personal preferences on life support and other treatments. I declared that if I’m ever incapacitated, someone is to give me daily foot massages. Elliott said that this would be up to my family and close friends to carry out, but would not be enforceable by law.
The final benefit of an Estate Plan I will discuss is the ability to create a Personal Record Book. As a humorist blogger and inventor, if I were to pass away I would want my wife to have access to all of my Good Ideas I’ve had over the years. With a Personal Record Book I can leave her my passwords and grant her access to things like my Facebook page, my blog, and my monthly subscription to Muscle magazine (which I don’t own yet.) Another added benefit of this part of the Estates Plan is that I am able to declare whether I want to be buried, cremated, or in my case have my ashes spread on the salad bar at Frisch’s that I love so much.
I am in no way a controlling person, but the thought of having no control over things like my money, health, and Facebook page if I become incapacitated or die is terrifying to me. Even more terrifying than the thought of some other overweight person having my face.
If you have any questions on the information contained in this blog, see the estate planning website of Cincinnati attorney, Elliott Stapleton, with CMRS Law, 123 Boggs Lane, Cincinnati, Ohio 45246, or contact him at (513) 334-0099.