Estate Planning Is About Helping Your Family

Creating an estate plan is about more than just designating beneficiaries for your assets. A good estate plan will prepare your family for the unexpected whenever it happens, including during your life. Don’t leave your loved ones in a situation where they are left trying to determine your wishes while undergoing the stress of dealing with whatever caused you to not be available.

First Thing’s First – Protect Your Assets Upon Death

Let’s start with what most people think about when they hear the words “estate plan,” the last will and testament. This document lays out your wishes regarding who will inherit your assets (money and property)…but that’s not all.

If you have minor children, the last will is the only place where you can designate a guardian for them in the event of your death. Courts will strongly consider a guardian designation in a will and only go against those wishes in extreme circumstances. However, if you don’t have a will, the courts will use their own judgment in determining who will raise your children. This could lead to fighting among family members or worse – your children being placed with a guardian you don’t want.

What about your assets? If you have minor children or grandchildren, are you prepared to let them inherit your assets right now with no guidance on how those assets should be spent? Most of us would say “no”. A properly prepared last will can avoid these issues by setting up trusts to hold the assets for minors and naming responsible trustees to be in charge of how those assets get distributed. Don’t let money issues tear apart your family after you pass, prepare a will today.

What Happens if You Become Incapcitated?

Nobody wants to worry about what will happen if they get sick and can no longer make decisions about their own healthcare or finances. It’s worse if the ill person’s family is left trying to figure out how to handle these things without any guidance. Fortunately, there are two legal documents designed to prepare your family for this exact situation:

  • Advance Directive for Healthcare
  • Durable Power of Attorney

Let’s take a closer look at both of these.

Advance Directive for Healthcare

An advance directive for healthcare designates a healthcare agent or “proxy” (and backups) to be responsible for making healthcare decisions on one’s behalf should they ever fall ill and not be able to make those decisions for themself. This document also contains a “living will” which provides one’s proxy, loved ones and healthcare team with detailed instructions regarding their preferences on various healthcare treatments, organ donation status, and whether any treatments should not be administered due to personal preference, religious restrictions, or for any other reason.

Durable Power of Attorney

Don’t leave your family in a position to fight over your finances. A durable power of attorney is a document that deals with the situation where someone falls ill and they are unable to make financial decisions. A durable power of attorney grants an agent (and backups) the power to take action. 

Let’s say you fall ill tomorrow. How does your mortgage get paid? Your auto loan? Who can withdraw money from your bank account or your retirement account? How will your business pay its bills?

Without a power of attorney, families are often left to determine who will take over the finances of the ill family member. As is usually the case when it comes to financial disputes – this scenario can get ugly fast. To avoid this from happening, prepare a durable power of attorney today.

As you can see, both of these documents can spare your family from disagreements, experiencing the uncertainty of trying to determine your health-related wishes, and wondering who should take charge of your finances if you are no longer able to do so.

Start Planning Today

Nobody wants to contemplate their own demise, but as adults we need to acknowledge that not doing so will likely leave our loved ones in a very difficult situation. Fortunately, the law allows for estate plans that can adequately prepare for this situation and leave families in a much better position to deal with these stressful situations when they arise.

Don’t put off creating the essential estate plan that your family will need. Call Rosenblum Law today for a free consultation.

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