If you avoid estate planning or end-of-life planning because you think it is too complicated, think again. There are only two main areas to consider: property and assets, and health. An attorney can easily take care of the details for you. When you understand the necessity of planning ahead, you will want the peace of mind that comes along with having proper documents in order.
For instance, why should you have a will? A will is imperative in taking care of your family if something happens to you. It allows you to designate your assets however you want to your heirs, charities or other causes. You can also restrict how you want the inheritances used, such as protecting them from going to creditors of your beneficiaries. In addition, you can specify a guardian or caretaker for any dependent children. In the absence of a will, the state may end up deciding where your assets go or who gets what.
A living will, also known as an “advance health care directive,” and a health care or medical power of attorney should be a vital part of your estate planning. A living will allows you to specify what type of medical treatment you would like administered if you are in an end-of-life situation. A medical power of attorney allows a person to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so. This is often used by children to make decisions for aging parents, who may be deteriorating in cognitive abilities; however, young people should not discredit this type of document as disabling incidents, such as a traumatic brain injury, can occur at any age.
You should also have a durable general power of attorney. A durable power of attorney allows someone — whom you name — to manage your finances and assets in the event something happens to you, and you are unable to do so. For instance, if an accident occurs, and you are totally disabled, someone may need to access your checking account or assets to ensure your bills get paid. They may need to keep your business running or make funds available for your medical care or treatment. This person is held to specific standards under the law and is prohibited from using your assets for their own needs over yours.
Because life is unsure, you can’t afford to put estate planning off!
Source: The Huffington Post, “4 Estate Planning Documents Everybody Needs,” Steve Cook, April. 10, 2015