Anyone who has adult children and is in the last years of one’s life should always leave instructions to the children concerning your wishes for your assets when you pass away.
I recently met with an attorney who has worked with me in formulating my will, a Living Will, a Health Care Proxy, a Deed, and a Power of Attorney. Each of these documents is helpful to inform one’s children of your final wishes.
Power of Attorney - Wikimedia
Last Will and Testament
Your Last Will and Testament will enumerate how you want your assets to be distributed. The easiest method is to divide your assets equally among all of your children. The will should also mention that if a child predeceases you, that child’s descendants should receive the parent’s portion of the assets that are divided. In some cases, there may be reasons to specify that certain goods should become the property of a particular descendent. The will should also state that all expenses of your last illness and your funeral should be paid before the heirs divide the remainder. An Executor of the will should be named, who will carry out your wishes that are outlined.
Power of Attorney
You should designate a person, likely one of your children, to act as your agent to spend your money and dispose of your property while you are still living, if you are unable physically and mentally to perform these actions. The same refers to your agent upon your death. The agent acts according to instructions you have provided.
The deed to your property or properties should be made accessible to the Executor and the person with Power of Attorney in the event that the property or properties are to be sold.
The directions in a Living Will are the exercise of one’s legal right to refuse treatment. If one is unable to communicate decisions regarding one’s medical care, the Living Will serves to direct the attending physician to withhold and withdraw treatment that serves only to prolong one’s dying. The procedures and treatments to be withheld may include surgery, antibiotics, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, respiratory support, blood and blood products, dialysis, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, nutrition and hydration, and invasive diagnostic tests. Treatment may be limited to keep the patient comfortable and to relieve pain. The Living Will may include whether or not you wish your tissues or organs to be denoted for medical purposes.
Making a Record - Wikimedia
Health Care Proxy
The Health Care Proxy lists an agent to act in your name to make and communicate all health care decisions for you. This would undoubtedly be one of your children. The Proxy will take effect in the event that you become unable to make your own health care decisions. The agent will abide by the directions that are specified in the Living Will, as noted above.
You may want to inform your descendants of other documents which will aid them in making a smooth transition of your assets to the proper parties.
You may have balances in one or more bank accounts that can be accessed by your Power of Attorney who will present his authority to close your bank accounts and to provide you with the remaining assets in those accounts.
If you have online banking, you should provide your children with your User ID and password as well as any Challenge Questions which are used to guard the account from unauthorized persons. This information is only necessary if your Power of Attorney chooses to know the extent of balances before presenting himself at the bank in person.
Any loose money found in the house is also to be divided equally among the heirs. As specified previously, unpaid bills must be taken care of prior to division of the assets by the descendants.
If the deceased has a Paypal Account, it is necessary also that the person with Power of Attorney must be provided with the User ID and password to the Paypal Account. Information is provided in the account for transferring the Paypal balance to the deceased’s bank account, thus allowing the Power of Attorney to delete the account and to transfer the amount to the deceased’s bank account.
Document Box - Wikimedia
The parent can ease the stress of his children by informing them early on where certain documents can be located in his/her home. A common place for all of these papers is preferable.
The deceased may already have a Cemetery Plot, the deed for which should be in a designated place where the Power of Attorney can access it.
Often, a parent may have written an Obituary which the children can send to the local newspaper to inform friends of his death. A picture may also be provided for that purpose.
Titles to Cars are necessary if the parent’s car is to be sold or transferred to a specific person. Access to these titles should be made easy.
Insurance Policies should be kept in this same safe place. They are often used for burial purposes.
The deceased may specify a particular Funeral Director he or she wishes to handle the funeral and burial. Upon being commissioned, the Funeral Director may request a birth certificate and picture ID of the deceased.
All of these instructions and documents should be placed in one location and descendants should be informed of their whereabouts early on.
Foresight of the Parent
Over the years, most of us have accumulated a lot of excess baggage in our homes, which should be disposed of from time to time. This act will be gratefully noted by one’s children who will likely have the chore of stripping the house before it is sold. Closets and dresser drawers can be cleaned out while you are still able, so that your busy children will not be required to separate the articles which are to be retained from those that are to be discarded.
I am happy to say that I am taking care of all of these details in order to spare my children a great deal of pain and work after I pass away.
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