In many families, the traditional role was for the husband to take care of insurance, retirement plans, estate issues and the like.  

For many, it is now the norm now that both parents, or spouses, take on equal responsibility for finances, planning, and care.  And this is a good thing. 

However, it does require coordination, otherwise things get forgotten, missed or misunderstood.

Coordination on estate planning needs, while you are both alive and healthy (the average married man will die eight to 10 years sooner than the average married woman), is one of those areas that often gets lost in the shuffle.

That potential loss of cooperative planning is a tragedy in itself because you both stand so much to lose if you do not jointly take a hard look at this issue. 

When Your Husband’s Health Is Failing, Estate Planning Will be Your Responsibility

Throughout your life, you and your husband will share many critical responsibilities.  However, should your husband’s health fail prematurely, you will be left managing both your daily business and his. 

If his health failure, or death, happens all of a sudden, it could be doubly tragic.  You will be reeling and in a poor place mentally and emotionally to manage various aspects of what we call, your estate

If we follow this story a little further – after your husband passes, your financial situation will change. Certain sources of income may no longer be available and for the ones that may become available, insurance, for instance, you will need to begin the process of applying for those distributions. 

Do you know where all the necessary documents for his life insurance are today? Beyond that, do you know what all the passwords to his accounts are right now (bank, email, phone, investments)?  Do you have a plan that walks you through things step-by-step to re-build the financial picture of your life in the midst of the deep emotional trauma you’ll be working through in his passing?

Of course, these responsibilities are not only on you. He needs to be aware of how to pick up the pieces if you pass first as well.  However, because you are statistically likely to outlive him, it is time to establish long-term plans.

Your Starter’s Guide: Estate Planning Checklist

The following list is a preliminary guide. When you schedule a time to meet with us, we will discuss every item here in much greater detail.   In the meantime, this is a handy reference for getting to know your family’s estate planning needs.

Guardianship Planning

If you have dependents, adult children with special needs, or minor children, a guardianship plan will help to provide for their care in the event that you no longer can. It allows you to assign a guardian, someone who will step in and care for your dependents in the way you see fit. A guardian can be given access to accounts and given instruction as to how to carry out care according to your wishes and in the best interest of your dependents.

The alternative means risking that a judge may make these decisions for you without knowledge of your wishes.

Durable Powers of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows you to designate a trusted individual to act on your behalf concerning medical, financial and estate decisions. There are several types of DPA to choose from. We are happy to advise and help you determine which of those the one that suits your needs best.

End of Life Plans

In addition to funeral insurance and a prepaid funeral plan, an end of life plan sets up an account at your bank called a payable on death account. This will allow you to assign a beneficiary for the assets in that account. It can be used to pay for funeral expenses and any other bills likely to arise after your death.

Beneficiaries for Your Accounts

You have the option to select who the beneficiaries of your estate and holdings will be. They may be minor or adult children, a spouse, a loved one or anyone you wish. The purpose is to make final estate decisions clear for those you leave behind and to keep these decisions from being made by a judge.

Estate Planning Update Schedule

As sources of income come and go, when dependents cease to be dependent, or when your estate and assets change, a review of your estate plan will be in order.  The lesson here – if you have an estate plan and have read this far thinking this does not apply to you, you might want to pause and ask, “how long has it been since I updated my estate plan!?  Is it still 100% effective?”

While we understand the desire not to revisit these issues, estate planning needs are subject to change as your life changes. You should set up regular review dates for the whole thing.

Establish a New Estate Plan or Update an Aging Estate Plan?

It is hard to say what is best for your family in this format.  What is not hard to say is, “Hello!” Contact us to get deeper into this conversation.  We care about your family.  Including your husband.  Let’s work together to plan for the future.

Get in touch with Atlanta Wills + Trusts Law Group by Refeca Law LLC in Alpharetta, Georgia. We will help you obtain the peace of mind you deserve.

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