April 11, 2012

Welcome back to the Griswold Blog, where this week’s series is on estate planning for your elderly loved one. In our last post, we left off with drafting a health care power of attorney and communicating all decisions to your loved one and appropriate family members.

The next step is taking care of the financial aspect, which means designating a durable power of attorney to pay bills and make the financial transition as smooth as possible. This is especially crucial if your loved one does not have a significant other and did not list joint tenants for certain assets or accounts.

When it comes to a will outlining what happens to your loved one’s assets and property, you want to make sure you get it professionally drafted. Also, consider utilizing a living trust to allow designated successor trustee to handle your loved one’s assets in the case of your own incapacitation. Update the will and living trust documents when necessary!

Estate planning can get confusing and stressful at times, but if you stay organized — and collaborate with the appropriate professionals — everything will come together smoothly. Make sure all estate planning documents are kept in one place, and make sure this place is secured. Also, if possible, have your loved one compose a “letter of instruction” indicating where any important papers and financial records are kept, such as:

■Bank accounts
■Investment accounts
■Real estate deeds
■Mortgage statements
■Companies and policy numbers for all insurance policies
■Lists of medications and medical history
■Funeral and burial preferences
■Titles of personal property
■Tax returns
If your loved one is not able to do this, you or another family member should take on the task. You’ll be happy you did in the future, when all estate planning documents and related collateral are accessible and easy to navigate!

We have a few more tips for estate planning coming your way, so check back soon.