The importance of thorough estate planning cannot be underemphasized. There are basic estate planning documents that everyone should have prepared, including:
• Last Will and Testament: this is the main document that directs what your specific wishes are as to the disposition of your real and personal property after your death
• Living Will: this document states when you do and do not wish to receive medical care artificially prolonging your life
• Durable Power of Attorney: this gives a person (or persons) that you appoint power to act and make decisions on your behalf in areas that you specify, such as access to your bank accounts, the ability buy and/or sell real or personal property, open safety deposit boxes, etc.
• Designation of Health Care Surrogate: this appoints a person (or persons) to make health care-related decisions on your behalf, should you become incapacitated
Association members also have other specific issues to be taken into consideration when estate planning. Are you a member on a board of directors? What are your assessments, where are the payments sent, and how often are they due? Do you have a management company or contact person that your heirs can speak with? What do your association’s governing documents say about beneficiaries? Do your beneficiaries have copies or access to the governing documents of your association? A copy of your governing documents should also be kept with your estate planning file, and will help direct heirs as to rules for the sale of a property, payment of assessments, and other procedural information they may not be familiar with.