When creating an estate plan, many Tennessee residents believe that their assets are the most important part. After all, the main topic that most people are concerned with in regard to settling an estate is who gets the remaining assets. However, in addition to the “what” aspect of planning, it is important to consider the “who.”
A number of people could play important parts in your estate plan. Your mind may first jump to heirs and beneficiaries who will receive your property, and those are certainly important figures to keep in mind. You may also want to think about who you want to handle the settlement of your estate and who you want to handle certain matters on your behalf while you are still living.
The important people of your plan
Because beneficiaries come to mind first, you can certainly keep their roles in your plan a priority. This can mean checking to ensure that you have named beneficiaries for payable-on-death accounts, like retirement accounts, savings funds and other bank accounts, and that the beneficiaries named are current. It is wise to review these designations from time to time because you may change your mind about who you want to receive the assets, or a person previously named as beneficiary could pass before you.
In addition to your beneficiaries, you may also want to consider the following roles that need trusted and responsible parties to fill them:
- Guardian: If you have minor children, naming a guardian in your estate plan could better ensure that your children will receive immediate care from someone you trust in the event of your demise.
- Power of attorney: A durable financial power of attorney allows someone of your choosing to handle your financial affairs for you if you become unable to do so, which can occur due to mental decline, serious injury or other circumstances.
- Health care power of attorney: Similarly, a health care power of attorney agent can make important decisions about your health care should you not have the ability to do so.
Filling these roles early on could better ensure that someone you consider capable and responsible can step in as soon as possible in the event that you become incapacitated or pass away.
Making legally binding decisions
While you may have people in mind for these important roles, they cannot handle your affairs without proper legal authority. As a result, you may want to ensure that you create the proper legal documents in accordance with Tennessee law that give your chosen parties the power they need to act if and when the time comes.