An estate plan is an important tool that can benefit a person’s family in the event of incapacity or death. A few of the issues which should be considered follow.
Assig backup beneficiaries and agents
In drafting a will it is important to name a primary and a secondary or alternate Executor; as well as primary and alternate beneficiaries. The alternates take the place of the primaries in the event of the primary Executor’s death or inability to serve; or in the event of death of primary beneficiaries.
Likewise, it is important to name alternate healthcare agents to serve in the event of death or inability of the primary named agent.
Consider funeral and burial plans
Difficulties can arise if a person leaves no directions regarding their wishes concerning funeral arrangements. Individuals who draft a will or healthcare power of attorney can name someone to make funeral and burial decisions or to follow their wishes regarding the same.
Additionally, R.I.G.L. section 5-33.3-3 provides for the designation of a funeral planning agent, and the chapter provides a form which may be used to do so.
It is important to note that a person making this type of written instruction should advise family or friends that he or she has done so; and where the document is kept. Otherwise, funeral wishes may not be known or followed at the time of the funeral.
Make plans for incapacity
A comprehensive estate plan provides for instances where an individual cannot make decisions, such as a coma or cognitive decline. This is an area where some individuals are not ready to sign a power of attorney or put property into trust (two possible documents which can be beneficial for an incapacitated person) until later in life.
It is important that any documents signed for this purpose are properly drawn up and witnessed. As with all estate planning documents, it critical to consult an attorney to ensure that these documents are valid and enforceable.