If you are new to the concept of estate planning, you can get swamped with issues fairly easily. You should still soldier on. Start with the basics, says Forbes’ recent article entitled “The Importance Of Estate Planning.”
An estate plan is a collection of legal documents that details the way in which you want your assets distributed after you die, along with how you want people you select to handle health and financial decisions, if you’re unable to do so for yourself while you’re alive.
A comprehensive estate plan written by an experienced estate planning attorney can help you feel more confident about the future because you will know your loved ones will be cared for and that the legacy you leave behind is the one you planned. Well thought-out planning now can help decrease any taxes and probate fees and make certain that your loved ones will have less to worry about and less stress when you are gone. However, if you don’t make plans for your estate, it can result in unintended complications for your family.
Let’s look at some of the essential estate planning documents:
- Trust: This is the standard document in your estate plans. Your trust designates an executor (or personal representative) to administer the distribution of your assets as you want. In your trust, you can also appoint guardians of minor children who will care for them.
- Durable Power of Attorney: This document names a trusted family member, friend, or advisor to serve as your agent to act on your behalf in your financial and legal matters.
- Healthcare Proxy: It will name a trusted individual to make medical decisions for you when you are unable, and permits access to your medical records (some institutions may require more documentation for full access to medical records).
- Living Will: This is where you can state your end-of-life care wishes. Living wills can cover pain relief and whether you would want a ventilator, feeding tube or resuscitation.
You also need to regularly review and update your estate plan with an experienced estate planning attorney. There may be changes in probate and tax laws, as well as life changes, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth, adoption, or death of a family member that require a revision of your plan.
Reference: Forbes (March 2, 2020) “The Importance Of Estate Planning”