Ok, Ok... that might be a bit dramatic. I recently had a medical scare that got me to thinking about updating my will. In researching a bit, I found that Living Trusts make things easier on those you love after you are gone, and can also provide some additional protections via Medical Power of Attorneys, and the like. Here is what I have done.
I attempted to use a software package called WillMaker. It sounded pretty straight forward, but I found they make it sound like you need to transfer all your vehicles, bank accounts, investment accounts, and pretty much everything you have your name on to the trust instead. In looking at how to do this, I found many companies simply won't.
I finally threw up my hands and hired an attorney to help me make sense of it all. My attorney wrote up 7 documents, and walked me through moving my house title to the trust. She explained that most other items won't need to be put directly in the trust, but can be with a little patience.
The documents created are listed below, with a brief (very non legal, IANAL, don't sue me) summary of the documents.
Directive to Physicians: This document basically lets me tell doctors not to waste money keeping me on a ventilator if it is unlikely I'll ever recover to the point of living without machine assistance.
Medical Power of Attorney: This document allows people I have selected to make medical decisions when I am not able to do so.
Declaration of Guardian: Provides me a guardian in the event I'm unable to take care of myself.
Statutory Durable Power of Attorney: Allows those I have selected to make decisions for me if I am unable to do so myself.
Agent for Disposition of Remains: Allows those I have selected to decide what is done with my remains should they be available.
Pour-Over Will: This covers anything not in the Trust.
Revocable Trust with contingent trust for minor children: This is a trust that I am in control of until I am no longer able to make decisions, and then people I select will take over.
I selected three people to succeed me. My mother was the first person I chose, but given her age, I thought it wise to have a backup. I selected two of my closest friends. However I chose two because I tend to go out on outdoor adventures with them. I feel it is more likely that if a major event occurs I will be with one of them at the time. Hopefully only one of them.... well... hopefully none of us, but being realistic...
The total cost of having these drawn up was $2,200.00. However, I feel it was well worth the costs given the stories I have heard about people losing their homes because the finances get locked down after a persons injury/death.
Once this was complete, I began working on transferring knowledge to my selected contacts. Having just had my father pass away, I realized how difficult it would be for someone to step into my place and keep things running with nothing but the documents above.
I started by pulling together the information I believe they might need. Most of this information was placed in a safe in the house, the rest is available online. I put together a packet in the safe and labeled it. I also created a document to hand to them. This document provided them with information on accessing my house, and the safe. It also provided them with credentials to get into my password safe, and online repository for all of my online accounts. Included in this envelope will be a copy of the Medical Power of Attorney to provide medical personnel should it be needed.
I sat down with or called (COVID after all), everyone and went over the information and discussed what to expect and answered what questions I could.
I found an article about setting up your phone so it shows your emergency contacts on your lock screen.
I have made the trust the beneficiary on pretty much everything with a beneficiary... 401k, rollover IRA, Investment accounts, insurance, etc...
I'm still working on moving over my bank accounts, but that may take a bit of time. I have to fill out some forms and mail them in manually. It's a bit of a pain.
Check with the insurance and lenders of anything you transfer in. My insurance ended up being fine with it, but I understand from my lawyer that every now and a lender will demand payment on property put into a Trust. I inferred this was usually smaller companies.
If you have any questions you think I could answer, or areas you would like me to expand upon, let me know.