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power of attorney

What’s Your Estate Plan?

By | 2020, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

I was recently reminded of the importance of having a thorough and reliable estate plan. I can tell horror stories of family feuds and legal actions taken when the passing of an individual happens without a proper plan for their estate. I can speak of heartbreak when a loved one is suddenly placed on life support, and the family is unsure of how to proceed or unauthorized to make decisions for the hospitalized party. I can assure you that an estate plan is well worth your time and money. If one is not in place, unnecessary stress and complications will ensue.

A proper estate plan will contain multiple documents that protect an individual’s assets, healthcare wishes, and beneficiaries. The following are key documents in every estate plan. Please make sure they are a part of yours.

Will/Trust – A will or trust is used to control property from the grave. This control will ensure the transfer of property to the intended beneficiaries and avoid obstacles that can significantly reduce the benefit that heirs would otherwise enjoy. We highly recommend the use of an estate-planning attorney when creating these documents.

Executor of the Estate – An executor of an estate is an individual appointed to handle the affairs of the deceased person’s estate. He/she is responsible for making sure all assets in the will are accounted for, along with transferring these assets to the correct parties. We recommend that the executor of the estate is chosen carefully.

Power of Attorney – A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document giving a person (the agent) the power to act for another person (the principal). The agent can have broad legal authority or limited authority to make legal decisions about the principal’s property, finances, or medical care. A power of attorney is frequently used in the event of a principal’s illness or disability.

Living Will – A living will is a legal document that states a person’s choices about end-of-life medical treatments. It lays out the procedures or medications one does, or does not, want to prolong life. A living will is only valid if its creator is unable to communicate.

Medical Power of Attorney – A medical power of attorney gives someone else (the agent) the ability to make health care decisions for another person (the principal). The agent only has the power to act on the principal’s behalf when the principal is incapacitated, whether from loss of consciousness or mental ability.

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Women in Transition: The Loss of a Spouse

By | 2017, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

One of the hardest life transitions women face is the loss of a spouse. Whether it is from death or divorce, picking up the pieces and moving forward is challenging – emotionally and financially.  One of the hardest life transitions women face is the loss of a spouse. Whether it is from death or divorce, picking up the pieces and moving forward is challenging – emotionally and financially.

Where there were shared responsibilities, suddenly you are in charge of everything from getting the car fixed to managing the daily budget and long-term financial plan. It can feel quite overwhelming. Not to mention, this transition comes at an incredibly emotional time.

Adjusting to your new conditions will not happen overnight and may actually take several years.  This is a time of profound self-discovery for women, who may find themselves examining issues of identity, life meaning, and aging. Creating a support group – family, friends, and professionals – gives you a pool of people you can use as a sounding board that will keep your “best interest” in mind when providing advice.

While there will be many things to tackle over the next year, here are some important things to do in the short-term:

Locate and organize your important documents and financial records. It is easy to overlook something when you are dealing with emotional stress. Having a system for gathering and organizing financial records can provide some sense of control.

Important financial documents and records are generally the first items to focus on. The bills still need to be paid and the cash flow needs to be managed.

  • Checking and savings accounts statements
  • Investment account statements
  • Retirement plan statements
  • Stock and bond certificates

Legal documents may need to be updated, reviewed, or available for reference. These include:

  • Will
  • Trust
  • Power-of-attorney
  • Medical directive

Other important papers should also be organized so that you can determine if adjustments need to be made, such as updating ownership records or beneficiaries. Some may be required for documentation as you make changes.

  • Social Security statements
  • Insurance policies
  • Marriage, birth, and death certificates
  • Property deeds
  • Ownership titles – vehicles and recreational equipment

Keep in mind that everything does not have to be done immediately. Gathering this information will allow you to set up a system for tracking important details. Keep a notebook or use a computer spreadsheet that you can easily access for account numbers, phone numbers and addresses, who to call for information on accounts, professional contacts, and deadlines to monitor.

After the initial legal and financial matters settle, you will begin adjusting to your new financial circumstances. As you move forward, remember that it may be two steps forward and one step back. Take comfort in knowing you are making the best decisions you can, financially and otherwise, for you and your family.

Remember, you are not alone. Even though you believe you can do it all, reach out to us as your trusted advisors. We can help you navigate this new landscape, avoid some of the pitfalls, give you advice, and be a sounding board as you make important decisions.

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