Planning for a disability or death will never be a pleasant process, but not informing your adult children about key details involving your medical, financial, and asset planning issues could result in confusion at a time when clarity of thought and timely action are essential.
When difficult events occur, knowing where and how to quickly locate key documents can help your family take timely, appropriate actions. Below, we offer a list of key issues that you should consider now.
- Health insurance: If you are 65 years of age or older, your adult children should know about the health insurance policies you have. They should also be aware of issues related to your Medicare. In case of a health emergency, you will be better off if your loved ones follow appropriate procedures and submit the necessary forms in a timely manner.
- Do you have a living will? Puerto Rican law recognizes the right of every individual in full possession of their mental faculties to leave a record of his or her wishes with respect to medical treatment and life support should the individual become terminally ill or fall into a persistent vegetative state. The Living Will is created in order to specify those wishes. Copies of that Living Will should be in your medical records and at the disposal of those who are involved in your medical care. The original should be kept in a safe, easily accessible place.
- Your will: The place to start is that you actually have a will, and then, that your will is up to date. You should know that you are entitled to keep its contents private, but all family members should know where you keep it.
- Consider a health care proxy: Like a Living Will, this instrument allows you to name a person as your agent, or “proxy,” who can make decisions about your health care if you should become incapacitated or unable to make your own decisions. In this document, you can leave specific directives as to the medical procedures that can and should, or should not, be administered, retained, or eliminated. A copy should be easily available to the person you designate as your proxy.
- Durable power of attorney: If you become incapacitated, who will manage your financial affairs? With a durable power of attorney, an individual or banking institution can serve as your agent to supervise your financial affairs. Your children should know what steps have been taken to ensure that your affairs will be handled competently should the need arise. However, you can limit your children’s intervention if you desire.
- Prepare a list of your debts and assets: Your adult children could be aware that there are lists of assets and debts without actually seeing those lists—unless you wish them to. A list of assets—reviewed and updated regularly—should include information about all your bank accounts, real estate properties, pension investments, annuities, business agreements, brokerage accounts, documents related to boats, vehicles, works of art, and other belongings of value, and insurance policies. A list of debts would include information related to mortgages, consumer debt, personal loans, and business obligations. Both lists should provide complete information about where to find the related papers and archives.
- Trusts: Wills can achieve a great deal in terms of the management of your assets after your death, but a trust governed by you or a trustee of your choice can help you meet particular needs, including minimizing tax impact.
The documents of a trust should be kept with the will in order to facilitate access. You should discuss the relevant terms with the persons who will be handling them. When your children reach adulthood, consider choosing one of them to act as the trustee in case of your death.
- Your life insurance: This type of insurance is generally purchased to provide money to cover mortgages, debts, expenses, and inheritance taxes, as well as to benefit your loved ones. Knowing about the existence of your life insurance policies and where they are kept is of critical importance. A policy kept under lock and key in a safe deposit box when a person dies cannot meet the goals for which it was purchased.
Getting organized to protect your family should the unexpected occur is a good decision. Your team at Popular One can help you put your affairs in order before the unexpected happens.