Ask Tom: Is Estate Planning Just for the Financially Wealthy or the Long-lived?

Mar 26, 2019 | Estate Planning, Wills and Probate

Death is a topic that is pushed to the back of our minds unless forced by an event or reality in our lives. It is a topic that might not be in the minds of the rising generation. With all of the expectations that are placed upon them by their peers and themselves it is difficult for them to prepare for the future because it seems so far away. The feeling of being invincible convinces one to think, “We’ll do it when we’re older”. The difficult truth is no one knows how much time they have left; therefore we should always be prepared. 

With the steady increase of natural disasters and crime in our world today we cannot ignore the fact that deaths are not limited to certain age groups. Families who are grieving over their loved one still need access to bank accounts, social media accounts, and access to money for funeral arrangements. With proper planning a great load can be taken off of those who are left to pick up the pieces. 

A few legal documents will need to be drafted in order to give authority to the individuals who will help carry out your wishes. A durable power of attorney is a document that allows you to name an individual as your agent to handle day to day matters, expenses, investments, and other general matters during incapacity. Note that a common misunderstanding is that a durable Power of Attorney can be used after death. This is incorrect, a durable Power of Attorney expires when you die. Utah enacted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act in 2016. If you have a durable Power of Attorney that was signed before 2016 then you should consider updating it. 

Another useful document is an Advanced Medical Directive which in Utah includes provisions for you to name an agent to make medical decisions if you cannot make your own decisions. It also provides instructions on what you would like to have happen if you are on life support and not expected to recover. The Utah Advanced Health Care Act was enacted in 2007. If you have a Medical Power of Attorney or a Living Will that were signed before 2007 then you should consider updating your medical related planning documents. 

The next documents you should consider are a Last Will and Testament and/or a Revocable Trust. Both of these documents help you create a plan for distributing your belongings to those you wish. Not everyone needs both a Last Will and Testament and a Revocable Trust. The decision is dependent on several factors including assets, distribution goals, marital status, among others.

We can communicate the importance of estate planning to our rising generation by helping them understand that it is not just for the wealthy or long lived, but to give them peace of mind and clarity to their families at such a difficult time. We cannot prevent tragedy, but we can help families focus on honoring the lives of those who matter most by creating a plan.

JensenBayles, LLP provides a broad spectrum of legal services.  Thomas J. Bayles has been actively providing advice in the areas of trusts, wills, probate and tax planning in the St. George market for over 18 years. Please visit our web site or call 435-674-9718 and ask for Thomas J. Bayles. The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Please contact an attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.

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