Despite the fact that there are fairly regular stories in the news that highlight the importance of having an estate plan, people of all ages struggle with actually deciding to follow-through on the task. While it is advisable for almost all adults to take this course of action, it is particularly necessary for older individuals or those who are ill. Though it can be hard to think about the end of your life, taking the time to create an estate plan can make things easier for your loved ones when you are gone.
Because every situation is different, exactly what needs to be included in an estate plan will vary. While there are a variety of things an estate plan can do, there are a couple of things that are generally universally important.
Plan ahead for incapacitation
Perhaps the most important thing to do is to create powers of attorney. Taking this action will make it possible for your financial matters to be handled by someone of your choice, should the time come when you become incapacitated. Along the same lines, drafting a living will or medical powers of attorney makes it possible for you to provide instructions about the care you want or the person you would like to make medical decision for you, when you are unable to.
Distribute your assets
Determining how your assets will be divided is also important since the failure to make your wishes clear could lead to disputes after you are gone. The best tool to use to distribute your assets will depend on your specific situation. While in some cases a simple will is sufficient. Other times, trusts are a better option. Among other reasons, a trust could be desirable to avoid probate. In addition, it is a good time to ensure that beneficiaries named in all retirement, life insurance and annuities are current.
A good estate plan will articulate and properly execute your wishes. To make sure this is done correctly it is important to work with a lawyer who has a thorough understanding of your wishes and the options available to carry them out. Miller, Kistler & Campbell handles cases of this nature. To learn more about their practice please see their website.