Your key to peace of mind is being able to answer these 5 estate planning questions.
Who will manage my affairs if I can’t and have the legal authority?
It is a common myth that your spouse can automatically sign for you and make your decisions. This isn’t true. The law sees every person as an individual.
If you are in an accident, develop dementia, or can’t make decisions for any reason, then your spouse can’t make them for you. They don’t have the legal authority.
You can give them that authority. With a durable power of attorney in place you give your spouse or others the right to sign for you and make legal, personal, and financial desicions.
Who will manage my healthcare if I can’t and have the legal authority?
The answer here is the same as above.
To give others the legal authority to make your decisions, you need a healthcare power of attorney.
Do I want to be kept alive artificially?
Without a “living will” your family and doctors have no guidance. This can lead to family fights over life support. A “living will” makes your desire to be kept alive artificially known.
Who gets what, when, how, and how much?
If you don’t make plans, then the State will decide who gets your stuff. The State will decide who gets what, when, how, and how much…not you. This may not match what you want. Also, your family will have to suffer through probate. Probate is public and takes a long time. You can figure on 8 months in Arkansas. Probate is also very costly.
Do I really need a trust to accomplish what I want?
The answer is maybe. If your estate is straightforward then probably not. Using a combination of deeds, beneficiary designations, and payable on death most if not all property stays out of probate.