You might have thought that we were done with the estate planning part of our challenge, but the truth is, there are a few more things to handle. We didn’t want to bring you this far into your estate planning and leave some empty spots. We are going to walk you through and challenge you to complete the little steps each week that are overall recommendations not only by us, but leading legal and financial authorities as well. But even though we are going to try and fill in all of the gaps, some estates may require much more planning and that is for you to decide based on your situation.
At the very least, every household should complete the steps we’ve been sharing with you for your estate and finances to be in a better position and not leave mysteries and unsolved parts of your estate to the state to deal with when you do die.
As we’ve stated in past weeks, we know this is not a subject many of us want to talk about or deal with. But let’s be honest, avoiding it solves absolutely nothing. In fact, we would go so far to say that avoiding it is irresponsible, like not carrying car insurance or home insurance, except that there will most certainly be a day that you will die and your estate, no matter how small, will need to be handled. So unlike insurance where you have it, but hope you don’t have to use it, there will come a day that you will die. Let’s just hope and pray that it is not for a very long time, but life is precious and the Lord has all lives in His hands and His will, but we don’t know the timing of that day and so we should be responsible in these financial and life matters as soon as possible too!
Finally we want to remind you that even though there are several Estate Planning steps, by breaking them down each week, our goal is to have you complete this in less than 1-hour each week and by the end of this few week cycle in our challenge, have those matters in order!
Next on the estate planning docket…Living Will (a.k.a. Healthcare Derivative) and Power of Attorney. Let’s be honest, this is necessary. This is a sensitive issue and a sensitive case. If you don’t name your healthcare wishes, then you may not receive the care or extent of care that you would have intended. Providing your family with clear, written direction about your healthcare wishes can spare them anguish and frustration and make ensure you get the kind of care you desire.
What is a Living Will? It is a legal document that spells out your wishes for medical care and treatment. It seems like a simple thing, but it can actually be complicated and very difficult for your family if these decisions are left up to them. The law requires your surrogate decision maker and doctors to follow your known wishes to the greatest possible extent — or to transfer you to a facility where you can get the care you want.
What is a Power of Attorney? It is a legal document that names a person you select to ensure that your health care decisions are carried out. Most often, this is your spouse and most state laws automatically name your spouse as this person, but it can also be any living children, a close friend, someone from church (like a pastor) and whomever you name. In addition, your Power of Attorney should also name a contingent representative to your primary health care representative. Since you will most likely name your spouse as your representative, it is important to select an additional person in case the unthinkable happens and your spouse has either died or in a capacity unable to make decisions.
For further information on these legal documents, we actually found this article from MayoClinic to be a helpful summary and explanation. We recommend that you read this quick article!
How to create your Living Will and Power of Attorney
The best way is to obviously visit an attorney, but of course, this can be costly. Often, when you enter a hospital, you name a Power of Attorney and a short Living Will, but this is often related to your care at the moment/for the treatment being rendered.
However, we are going to encourage you to create one (visiting an attorney if you can afford it) but there are several resources online that are both free and low-cost. The best way to go is by checking out Living Will and Power of Attorney Legal Document Kits on Amazon for your State. We are not going to provide a link to all 50 states, but we have very often found this to be the easiest, quickest, most reliable “do-it-yourself” way to obtain legal documents. In fact, we purchased an “all-in-one” estate planning kit that also conformed to our state’s laws and covered all of the legal documents we’ve been talking about the past few challenges, including this one. Most cost between $12-$30 for the kits, which is really a bargain and to make sure that you are meeting and following your states laws.
You can also find free and low-cost legal documents on these three sites that will work for most states or at least give you a good basis. You can also search these sites for the documents related to your state.
- LegalZoom charges a small fee, but does the job of an attorney for you from home and online. It is another smart, low-cost way to go! Plus, you can use coupon code: RMN10 to get $10 off most orders, making this part of your estate cost less than a dinner out!
- ExpertLaw has a free basic Power of Attorney form that you can use.
- TidyForm has some legal document templates that you can download and use as well.
Well, that about covers it on the most basic level regarding a Living Will and Power of Attorney for this point in our Take Back Your Finances challenge. We hope that these steps are really getting your finances and estate in order and well on the way down a better and more financially secure and free road!
One final thing…we also have a Facebook Group where you can engage in discussions, receive encouragement and talk to others that are participating in the challenges too for more ideas! Head to the Be Intentional with The Thrifty Couple Facebook Page HERE and ask to join us there! You can also invite friends and spouses too!
Disclaimer: We are not licensed financial planners nor are we attorneys. We are only a couple that have been just a hair-breadth away from bankruptcy and found our way out of debt with a goal to now help others. Please make sure to consider any advice given on our site and in this challenge as tips we have used ourselves; they may not work for everyone. If you have questions please make sure to contact a licensed professional.