Estate planning is an essential part of life, and if you don’t have your estate plan in order, it can be a huge burden on both yourself and those around you. If you do not have an estate plan in place, state laws will likely grant decision-making authority to your immediate relatives if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. These same state laws will also determine who will receive your assets after your death. However, you can take control of these choices through estate planning.
There are three (3) core estate planning documents that everyone should have created by an estate planning attorney: a Will, a Power of Attorney, and a Living Will. If any one of these documents is not properly executed or does not exist when the time comes to pass away, the consequences could be dire. We’ll go over each document briefly so you know what they do for you as well as how to get started with creating them.
Creating a Will
Your Will is the document that outlines how your assets are to be distributed after your passing and specifies who you wish to manage your estate after your death and to whom your assets will be distributed.
It is important that your estate plan includes not only what you want to happen with your assets, but also who should have custody or guardianship of any children. Any final thoughts or requests can also be included in a will, which should include naming an executor and giving instructions for how the funeral service should proceed, among other details.
Assigning a Power of Attorney
The Power of Attorney is the document that designates the person you trust to handle your affairs in the event you become incapacitated and specifically names someone to act on your behalf regarding financial, legal and healthcare matters if you are unable to make those decisions yourself.
If you decide to assign a power of attorney, it is important that the person you choose has knowledge of your assets as well as an understanding of estate planning law.
The Living Will
A Living Will, also known as an Advanced Medical Directive, provides instructions to your doctors or healthcare agents/providers concerning end-of-life care. It indicates the type of medical treatments you desire (or do not desire) in the event you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious, such as whether you would want to be placed on life support or resuscitated, among other details.
Before getting started:
For our firm to get started with the process of estate planning, we require two decisions be made in advance. Who is going to be your Executor? And who will be your Beneficiary?
Who is going to be the Executor?
The Executor is the person in charge of carrying out your final wishes. This includes handling things like distribution of property, paying bills, and making sure estate taxes are paid. It is important that this person be someone you trust to best carry out your intentions after your death.
Who will be the Beneficiary?
Your Beneficiary is the person (or people) that you want to receive your property or your assets. This is the person you want to inherit your personal property any other gifts in your estate after your death.
Estate Planning is not always the most pleasant conversation to have, but creating these documents will help reduce the stress on your loved ones at the time of your death. These documents are necessary if you want to ensure that when you pass, someone else will handle your affairs appropriately without any disputes or confusion as to how you would have wanted them to be handled.
Furthermore, the process of Estate Planning may seem daunting now, specifically because many people don’t think about their own mortality until they’re old enough for retirement (generally age 65), but we urge you not to put off this task any longer because every day counts!
If you would like our help in creating these legal documents, please contact our office today so that we can assist you through this process.