Katie and I went to a seminar that a family lawyer did on estate planning (useless for us as we have No Money) and on wills. There was lots of really interesting information and a ton that did not apply. But these takeaway tidbits were fascinating:
1. Even if you have few assets (<$100,000 which would let you avoid probate), if a minor is a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or of a retirement account then it will automatically go to probate. Keep that in mind when you pick a beneficiary.
2. In the event of a dire emergency, we need to designate not only a permanent guardian, but to avoid Little Man being placed in the Child Protective Services system, we also should designate a temporary guardian (for the first 1-12 hours until everything can be sorted out).
3. The three legal docs, according to this guy, that all adults should have are a Power of Attorney, An Advanced Directive with the appropriate HIPPAA releases, and a Will.
4. A will means you have to go to probate for the assets. If you have any assets above $100,000 it should go into a living trust. The will is really about designating guardianship of children.
5. All of your documents should be stored somewhere where others know so they can access them. Services like Docubank are available with digital storage of advanced directives and will fax them 24/7 on demand.
Whew. Lots to think about.