During the process of creating your estate plan, you will be forced to make some difficult decisions. With each decision, it is important to carefully consider your choice and evaluate the consequences of the resulting circumstance.
Let’s talk about what you will want to contemplate before starting your estate plan.
- What do you want to accomplish with your estate planning?
- Who do you want to receive your assets?
- Do you have specific wishes regarding medical treatments and procedures?
- Who do you want to name as a guardian for your minor children?
- Do you want to appoint an agent to help you make important financial decisions if you are ever unable to?
- Do you have an opinion about funeral planning arrangements?
- Do you want to make sure that your loved ones will always be cared for financially?
- Do you want to include your pets in your estate plan?
- Do you have ideas of who you would like to manage your estate affairs after you die?
- Do you want to appoint an agent who will be responsible for helping to make important medical decisions, if you are unable to?
- Do you need to include planning for a special needs child?
- Do you want to leave assets to your children in the form of a protected trust?
- Do you know who you would trust to handle assets designated for the care of your children?
A basic estate plan consists of a well thought out, integrated plan which should include the following documents:
- Revocable Living Trust: Holds title to your property and avoids probate and public scrutiny of your affairs. It can be extremely flexible and provide direction for your assets and heirs for years to come.
- Will: At death a Last Will and Testament will transfer assets titled in your sole name.
- Financial Power of Attorney: Appoints a trusted person to make financial decisions if you are unable to make them for yourself.
- Health Care Power of Attorney: Appoints a trusted person to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to make them for yourself.
- HIPAA Power: Designates those individuals who are allowed access to your protected health information. Without this important power, a health care provider like a hospital may refuse to provide any information to your family.
Take the time to think about your estate planning goals. By considering these important topics, and making the difficult decisions, you will have a plan that is able to carry out your wishes through your illness or death. A qualified estate planning attorney can offer guidance through this process.
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