Do you remember the feeling of accomplishment and peace of mind when you left our office with your completed estate plan in its pretty green binder? Did you take your binder home and put it on a shelf or in a drawer? Do you have any idea what is in the binder now and how it can be used? Did your doctor recently ask you if you have an Advance Healthcare Directive and you didn’t know the answer (hint: you have one, specially created for you)?
Your binder contains more than just your trust. While the trust is the centerpiece of your estate plan, the other legal tools – Durable Power of attorney, Advance Healthcare Directive, HIPAA Authorization – are equally as important. Here’s a little refresher of the sections, which are divided by tabs:
Your living trust agreement, as most recently amended or restated.
Your instructions to your trustee directing the disposition of your personal effects.
Your will, which transfers to your living trust any assets that you do not transfer to it during your life.
A place to keep confirmations and proof of every asset transfer to your trust and every designation of your trust as your beneficiary. Also, a place to record the physical location of your important documents to assist your successor trustee in finding them. Properly maintained, this section is immensely useful for your successor trustee.
A document that authorizes your agent to transfer property to your trust and manage your financial affairs should you become unable to manage them yourself. It gives your Agent the ability to run and maintain your financial life.
Two important documents live in this section. First, your Authorization for Release of Protected Health Information (HIPAA Release) authorizing release of health information to designated persons. Second, your Advance Healthcare Directive authorizing your designated agent to make medical decisions for you when you cannot.
We provided you with a list template to fill in your advisors and personal contacts for the use of your successor trustee. Make sure to fill this in and keep it up to date, it will make your successor trustee’s life much easier. This section also contains a template for keeping track of your Digital Assets and their passwords.
A statement of your personal wishes as to burial or cremation services. We provided you with the framework, but you will need to fill in your personal choices.
Instructions to assist your successor trustees to understand why and how to administer your trust.
Any correspondence or other document related to you or your trust that would be helpful to your successor trustee.
So, take out your binder and give it a little love. While you’re at it, take a look at your flowchart and make sure that all your choices are still the right ones. If you find you need changes, we’re here to help.