As a will and trust lawyer in Crossville, Tennessee, I realize people have many reasons why they put off estate planning. Maybe they're young and healthy and don't think they need to worry about that any time soon. Others find the whole idea uncomfortable, the idea of death and what would happen to their loved ones. But no matter where you are in life, you should have your estate plan in place. This applies especially to first responders and law enforcement.
If facing dangerous situations is part of your career, you have to regularly take risks that could leave your family without you. I'm not saying you should obsess over dangers, but being prepared for the worst can give you and your loved ones a bit more peace of mind.
To take the first step toward creating your estate plan, I recommend starting with a basic will and naming your executor. The executor oversees your affairs. Next, arrange for your loved ones to be provided for, which includes setting up any trusts. You'll want to also include instructions for managing your healthcare and finances should you become incapacitated in some way.
Ideally, your executor should be someone you trust and who's willing to be in charge of your final affairs such as paying your bills, inventorying your assets, hiring attorneys, and financial advisors.
If you have minor or disabled children, you'll need to name a guardian. If the other parent can step forward, that's great; but if that's not possible, you'll need to plan for someone else to take that role. If you do not, the court will decide on your children's guardianship.
Assets won't necessarily be given to your children if your spouse also dies, so you'll need to discuss your wishes with your estate planning attorney to come up with a plan in line with state laws.
By using a trust, you can control somewhat how your children's inheritance will be managed and how the funds distributed. A hand-selected trustee is responsible for overseeing the money as your children need it and can stop the funds from being distributed outright when your children turn 18.
First responders often risk serious injury on the job, which could lead to temporary or permanent disability. In your estate plan, you need to include your wishes regarding who can make medical and financial decisions for you, typically a close relative or trusted friend. If you name your spouse, maybe name an alternative in case they cannot for whatever reason.
While in the estate planning process, review your insurance policies to make sure they will meet your and your family's needs. Policies for both you and your spouse should be in place to help with loss of income. Also, consider once again the possibility of disability and perhaps take out short and long-term disability insurance.
Don't put off your estate planning because you think you don't need it or can't afford it. Being a first responder, you know how quickly everything can change. Plan for your family's future, and have a bit more peace of mind. If you need help getting started, contact us at our Crossville, Tennessee law office by calling 931-250-8585 to schedule an appointment.