What Is an Estate Plan?
An estate plan is a method for prescribing your wishes in the event of your death or incapacitation. A proper estate plan includes the following:
- Will/Trust – Communicates your wishes for how assets should be transferred after your death, designates a guardian for your children, and names an executor of your estate, among other functions
- Durable Power of Attorney – Designates who makes financial decisions on your behalf
- Healthcare Surrogate – Designates who makes health care decisions on your behalf
- Living Will – makes wishes known regarding life prolonging treatments
Read through this post on estate planning here, or skip to our AllGen Academy estate planning video below.
Why Is an Estate Plan Important?
Since death is not a pleasant topic of conversation for most people, this area of planning is often ignored. However, estate planning is critical for facilitating the lives of your loved ones in the case of your death, serious injury, or illness.
For example, you may become disabled and mentally incapable of fulfilling certain responsibilities such as paying your bills, determining which medications to take, or deciding whether to have the doctor perform surgery. No one can legally do these for you unless you have established estate planning documents that give certain “powers” for someone else to act on your behalf.
Similarly, you can structure your estate plan to provide for the care of your children according to your wishes if something happens to you and/or your spouse. Failing to have a plan in place means it’s up to the court system to determine who cares for your children in your absence.
How to Establish an Estate Plan
When it comes to estate planning, we recommend you pay an attorney to help you navigate this process instead of attempting to do it yourself. There is a lot of legal language used in an estate plan and misstating just one clause can lead to your plan being disqualified. While there are online resources to do this yourself, depending on the complexity of your estate or wishes, estate documents sometimes need to be state specific and more involved than what a generic online form can provide.
It’s important to choose an attorney who is well versed in estate planning rather than a generalist or someone specializing in a different area of law. Not all lawyers are created equal and the depth of law requires specialization in this specific area.
How Does Estate Planning Protect My Family?
Estate planning adds an extra layer of control and management in your financial life in the face of permanent injury or death. It allows you to protect and continue your legacy while limiting the intervention of attorneys, courts and expensive fees at a later date. Whether your estate is simple or complex, these documents can assist your loved ones during a difficult time.
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