You should have an estate plan that addresses more than simply disposing of property following your death. Making sure your children and people important to you are taken care of and provided for is a critical priority. In addition, estate plans are essential for giving guidance to loved ones during life about important medical, legal, tax and other decision-making issues.
Living Wills/Health Care Proxies
The decision to provide or withdraw medical treatment when you are terminally ill or incapacitated is a highly personal one. A living will (aka Advanced Directive) is used to make sure your wishes about life-prolonging medical treatments are known in case you are unable to make your own health care decisions. It is also referred to as an advance directive, health care directive, or a physician’s directive. It is important to have a living will because it informs your health care providers and your family about your desires for medical treatment in the event you are not able to speak for yourself.
It also is important to designate a person as a health care proxy (sometimes called a medical power of attorney) to make sure the instructions in your living will are carried out. A health care proxy will also consult with your medical providers in the event you cannot do this on your own.
This document ensures the successful passage of your assets to your beneficiaries. Everyone should have a will. Even if you’re young, you probably have possessions that you care about. If there is an accidental or unexpected death and no will, there’s no way the courts can know what your intentions were for your possessions. I will help create a plan, draft the document, and prepare formal execution of the will to make sure it is clear and will have little chance of being contested.
It is often thought that trusts are only necessary for wealthy people. However, trusts can be appropriate for people with minor children or those who want to avoid having their estate go through probate upon their death. Creating a trust establishes a legal entity that holds property or assets for the person who created it. A trust also can be included in your will to set aside money to take care of your pets after your death, Trusts, by design, can be very flexible and a grantor has the right, within the law, to tailor it to meet the anticipated the needs of the beneficiary.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a written document in which an individual (principal) designates another person (agent or attorney-in-fact) to exercise powers or perform acts on their behalf. When the Power of Attorney goes into effect, the agent acts for the principal. In many situations, it may be appropriate to appoint a spouse or other trusted person as your power of attorney in advance so that, in case you become incapacitated, that person can handle all or some of your financial affairs, just as you would. It is important to consult a knowledgeable attorney to help determine whether or how a power of attorney can help you and give you peace of mind. Although the agent has a duty to act in the principal’s best interests, it is important that principals only appoint agents who they trust completely because the actions of the agent are legally considered those of the principal.