Simply put, everyone from the age of 18 on up needs an estate plan: the tools that will arm our loved ones to attend to our affairs. Ideally, they won’t need these legal documents for a very long time—but when the day comes, they will be thankful to have them. Lawyers provide a snapshot of estate planning basics.
- Create power of attorney documents that designate your health and financial decision-making representatives who will assist in your decision making should you become ill or incapacitated.
- Create a will that lets you specify who will serve as guardian for any minor children, pay your final bills and distribute your property, close your financial and social media accounts, become the caregiver for your pet, inherit your property, etc.
- Make sure all of your planning documents are together in a secure but accessible place.
- Give a copy of the appropriate planning documents to those who will serve as your personal representative, patient advocate and financial power of attorney.
Estate bonds, though sometimes waived, can be very helpful in estate planning too. Essentially, estate bonds protect the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries in accordance with state law. You can learn more about estate bonds and watch a brief video right here. If your lawyer recommends an estate bond, or your local surrogate or probate court requires one, you can easily and quickly obtain an estate bond with Colonial Surety’s online bond service.
Time for an Update?
While you are on the right track if you have already created an estate plan, experts remind us that plans need to be updated periodically. Afterall, families and circumstances are ever-evolving, right? Here are specific pointers for updating an estate plan from experts at JD Supra:
- Look through your planning documents to see if updates to your plan and your beneficiaries are needed due to family events (like marriages, births, divorces or deaths).
- Check your beneficiary designations on assets that are not transferred by your will, such as retirement accounts, bank accounts and life insurance policies. These beneficiary names may need updating due to marriages, births, divorces or deaths in the family.
- If your plan is more than five years old, check with your estate planner to determine if any changes are needed to stay current with, or prepare for, tax law changes.
- Create a trust if you have significant assets, young beneficiaries or an unusual family situation.
- Proper planning is especially important for married parents with children from previous relationships to avoid disinheriting these children.
When creating or updating an estate plan, don’t neglect attention to the appointment and preparation of the fiduciaries needed to ensure your intentions are carried out. As DS Law explains, our designees are making an important commitment. Depending on our specific plans and circumstances, designees may include a:
Personal representative: The person you appoint to administer your estate through the probate process after you pass away
Trustee: The person you name to manage your trust’s money and property
Guardian: Somebody to whom you give the legal responsibility to care for your children, including adult children who lack the capacity for self-care
Power of attorney agent: A chosen individual who has the legal authority to handle medical or financial affairs on your behalf if you become unable to manage your own affairs
You can learn more here about the various roles people you trust may play in your
estate plan. Keep in mind that regardless of the specifics of your plan, the fiduciaries you appoint have a legal responsibility to carry your affairs, in accordance with the intentions set forth in your estate planning documents—and the law. Fiduciary Bonds are frequently requested—and sometimes even required. Sometimes alternatively referred to as personal representative, executor, trustee or guardianship bonds, fiduciary bonds safeguard the interests of the estate and your beneficiaries in accordance with state law. At Colonial, a leading national provider of all types of fiduciary bonds, the steps to obtaining personal representative, executor, guardianship or trustee bonds are easy: get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond right from anywhere—even the law office.
Resources for Estate Planning Attorneys
Colonial’s direct, fully digital, user-friendly I-Bond® system reduces the time and expense typically associated with antiquated bonding processes. In addition to providing bonds directly to the general public, Colonial offers The Partnership Account® for Attorneys . This free business service provides user-friendly client management dashboards, enabling attorneys to easily coordinate, view, complete and e-file the court and fiduciary bonds clients need. See for yourself today:
Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct writer of surety bonds and insurance products. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.