How to write a living will

Legal Zoom has an estate planning checklist that explains some of the finer points of trusts, assets, and beneficiaries. Their site also has a wealth of resources to help you understand all aspects of estate planning, from the types of wills, the legal jargon, the unusual aspects of probate (the legal process where all assets and property are later dissipated). of a death) and more.

In addition to the list of names you can think of, it is a good rule of thumb to have at least one alternate person to fill those positions. Circumstances may change and your brother or friend may not be in a position to carry out their agreed-upon duty; you want a backup in case that happens.

Step two: seek legal help

Approaching an attorney to do your estate planning may seem like a waste of time or money, especially if you are young and healthy. But this is when you should start the process. “Setting it up ahead is so much better because it gives you a chance to think … you have time to designate the best person for each job,” says Hess.

There are online options like Legal Zoom, Rocket Lawyer, and NOLO that provide will creation services with the creation of state-specific legal documents, as well as varying degrees of virtual legal advice to aid in the process. But there are also many advantages to consulting an attorney who specializes in wills and probate.

At the University of Tennessee, the Homer A. Jones, Jr. Wills Clinic is run by the University Law Department. It is made up of law students with a faculty supervisor who is a licensed attorney and must approve all documents that are sent to clients. According to Hess, “They do all the work that a licensed estate planning attorney would do. They write powers of attorney for health care and financial management, write living wills, write wills and trusts. They do a bit of legalization and conservatories. “

Clinics like the UT are not anomalies; many universities have them. Generally, there are income guidelines, but services are free if you qualify. Most states also have legal aid societies where people can get free or reduced-cost help with estate planning from licensed attorneys if they cannot afford the full fees.

Step three: choose your document storage solution

The old system of filing everything in a box under the bed has received many updates in recent years. The websites where you can store and organize all your health care directives, beneficiary list, power of attorney documents, wills, trusts, deeds, etc., are just a click away for your loved ones. Facilitating this process is one of the best gifts you can give a grieving person.

Below are some document storage programs that are encrypted for security and will give you peace of mind.

This is a comprehensive site that begins with a questionnaire to determine marital status, if you have existing health or financial directives, and the situation with minor children. Once you complete the inventory, Everplans provides specific instructions on what to tackle first, as well as links to helpful articles and resources to demystify the process. It is personalized and specific to each state; This is important as the laws of each state are different.

There is a free version that provides access to articles and resources, but if you want to upload and store documents, there is a $ 75 annual fee that includes a digital vault, access to your designated delegates (loved ones you provide links to), and security. at the bank level of all documents.

With data security breaches more common than ever, you may be reluctant to put account numbers and personal information on the web, even if it is encrypted. The Torch does not request that type of information. Instead, the site walks you through setting up a profile, completing a checklist of important documents to help develop what you might be missing, and creating notebooks based on considerations like real estate, pets, and healthcare.


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