In the estate planning world, it seems many conversations today revolve around taxes. While taxes do play an important role in estate planning, there are many other concerns that should be addressed when preparing your estate plan.
Some items to consider before meeting with an estate planning attorney are:
- Who will hand your affairs when you are not longer able to act? Many think estate planning is planning for after your death, but what if you are still alive and become mentally incapable of handling your financial responsibility. You will not only want to appoint an executor to handle your estate when you die, but also an agent to handle your affairs while you are still alive.
- Who will take care of your minor children if you pass away? This can be a difficult but important decision. If your children are old enough to share in your decision, you may want to get their input.
- How will your estate be distributed? To your spouse, children, grandchild, other relatives, friends?
- Are there others, such as an elderly or disabled relative, that count on your support? Do they live with you? Who will take care of them?
- In leaving someone a large sum of money, it is important to consider whether they are responsible and mature enough to handle their inheritance. If not, you will want to determine who will be responsible for how and when it will be distributed.
- Who will make medical decisions for you when you are not able? This includes end of life decisions, as well as medical procedures that require you to be sedated. If you are unable to communicate, someone will need to talk with the doctors and nurses on your behalf.
- What about end of life decisions? You will be asked if you want to sign a living will expressing how you want to be cared for at the end of your life. These choices will involve such things as medication, nutrition and hydration.
- Do you have debts that need to be paid such as a car loan or mortgage? Where will the funds be located to pay the debts?
- What are your wishes regarding your funeral? How will the funeral be paid?
- Do you have pets that need to be cared for? Do you have a relative or friend that can step in to take care of your pet(s) in the case of your disability or death?
As you can see, there are many decisions that need to be addressed in planning your estate that do not involve taxes. Making these important choices ahead of time will be a gift your loved ones will always cherish. A qualified estate planning attorney can help you prepare a comprehensive estate plan that incorporates your personal concerns.
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