Find an Attorney. If you are interested in locating an elder law attorney near where you live go to The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc www.naela.org and click on "locate an elder law attorney" near where you live. To reach a list of attorneys specializing in estate planning, go to American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. Assignment of Power of Attorney
The American Bar Association website offers the following advice: Your attorney should be able to give you guidelines to follow however it is usually best to get your children and heirs to approve these plans ahead of time. However it is important to ‘spell out’ what you want ahead of time. This approach generally avoids at least some of problems (and suits) that could result. Remember the power of attorney covers your finances but you also need a document that covers your health care decisions if you are unable to act for yourself. A medical power of attorney can help, but each state has different laws and regulations governing what can and can’t be done.
Ethical Wills/Legacy Letters
According to Wikipedia an ethical will is a document designed to pass ethical values from one generation to the next. It is an aid to estate planning
Traditional wills involve what you want your loved ones to have. Ethical wills involve what you want your loved ones to know.
Letters to Trustees
Writing a separate letter to trustees can help communicate your thoughts and can be highly valuable to trustees in understanding your intent. The letter will provide more perspective and guidance and help guide the trustee use their professional discretion. While a letter to trustees is not a binding legal document, it can be an extraordinarily meaningful piece of estate and legacy planning.
Write to communicate your values, wisdom, history, stories, and love from one generation to another. Tell readers who you are and what matters most to you. It’s a way for you to be remembered and to make a real difference. Consider writing this as a “family story” providing your thoughts, experiences what you want passed on to your immediate family, future generations and perhaps close friends. You might include everything from: What have I been about? Who were the most influential people in my life? What is the greatest lesson I learned—and want to pass on? Whose forgiveness do I need? Who do I want to forgive? What are the values associated with our financial assets that I want my spouse and the generations that follow me to know? What family history do I want described?
See information on how to write an ethical will http://online.barrons.com/news/articles/SB50001424052970204883804575483921684638904?tesla=y Purchase Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper http://www.amazon.com/Ethical-Wills-Putting-Values-Edition/dp/0738210552
Checking Your Digital Footprint
Many older Americans are not aware of the full extent of their digital footprint. Having all appropriate information in one place is not only important to your proper digital management, but is extremely important for your family and your estate after you are gone or incapacitated.
Everyone needs to do the following:
a. List all of your accounts, logins, passwords and URL’s including email accounts. Note: if you have more than one email account it is imperative that the appropriate email address be listed with each of your accounts for communication purposes.
b. List social media Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc.
c. List any sites you use to purchase or sell products and services like eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, Zappos, etc.)
d. List all retailers where you have open accounts.
e. List all business and service related on-line accounts like banking, utilities, cable, phone, Internet, etc.
f. List all accounts in which you use automatic transfers or payments via a credit card or checking account withdrawal.
Discuss with your spouse or family as to whether you want these accounts closed or transferred when the time comes. List the contact person, if you have one, at each account, as well as passwords and log-in information and make sure to include all financial, banking and credit card sites as these are areas that have the biggest possibility of creating problems if you are not available to act.
Provide a copy of this information to your spouse/family and to your accountant and attorney along with instructions of how these matters should be handled.
Instruct the appropriate person (family member or friend) whether you wish some kind of message sent out via your social media sites including various alumni list-serves indicating your passing or incapacitation.
Be aware that each social media site has a different set of rules governing how to close your account and remove the profile of a deceased user. Some are relatively easy while others may require a copy of an obituary notice or even a death certificate.
For additional information and many articles on what you should consider with respect to your digital footprint check out www.thedigitalbeyond.com
For more information on who gets access to a deceased person’s digital accounts including state to state laws on access to digital accounts after death check Pew Research Center’s article.