All adults regardless of age or financial status can benefit from an estate plan. An estate plan ensures the proper documents are in place to provide instructions regarding financial or health care decisions, and who should manage your money and possessions if you become disabled and unable to make decisions.
Establishing an estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Proper estate planning not only puts you in charge of your finances, it can also spare your loved ones the expense, delay, and frustration associated with managing your affairs when you pass away or become disabled.
Key Elements of Estate Planning:
A will allows you to specify where your money and possessions should go upon your passing and allows you to choose an executor of the estate. The executor will take care of managing the estate, paying debts, and distributing property as specified. A will takes effect only upon your death.
A living trust does everything a will can do, but because it is effective during your lifetime, it also allows you to choose someone who will manage your assets if you become incapacitated. In addition, a living trust provides privacy, as it is not subject to court proceedings that become open to the public like a will is. Numerous other advantages to a living trust can be explored with the help of an attorney.
A living will is the third key document you might consider. A living will specifies your wishes for end-of-life medical care. For example, you can specify whether you want to be kept alive by artificial means if you are in a terminal state.
Health Care Power of Attorney
A health care power of attorney specifies who will make health care decisions for you, if you aren’t able to make decisions yourself. Both the living will and the health care power of attorney outline your wishes about medical treatment and care when you can’t make them for yourself.
Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney names an agent to handle your finances if you are no longer able to do so. An agent can open and close bank accounts, write checks, and sell property if you provide them the authority to do so. By having a financial power of attorney in place, the stress and expense of a guardianship can be avoided, and the senior has the final say in who will make decisions related to finances.
Having an estate plan is necessary for you to have a say in what happens if you become sick and cannot make decisions for yourself, and to determine what happens with your money and your belongings after death. Contact our office for assistance with all the necessary parts of your estate plan.