Estate planning is about accomplishing common goals and addressing fundamental responsibilities. Regardless of your net worth, you undoubtedly want to provide for your spouse and children in the event of an untimely death. You will also want a logical, well thought out plan in place in the event that you are in the hospital, making you unable to oversee family finances. More importantly, you would probably would like to leave this world knowing that you attempted to make it better place.
In a basic estate plan, every adult should have the following documents:
1. Durable Financial Power of Attorney - This enables you to appoint an agent to manage your finances if you are unable;
2. Health Care Power of Attorney – This document names an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf; and
3. Living Will – This powerful legal instrument enables you to spell out with particularity the medical interventions you do and do not want in case you are in a persistent vegetative state or in the final stages of a terminal illness.
Did you ever stop and think what would happen to your family if you passed away? With a Will, you can create a blueprint for who will get your assets when you die. A Will can also name a guardian to take care of your young children in the event you are a single parent or if you and your spouse pass away in an untimely manner. A Living Trust is a bit more advanced than a Will and is often used to safeguard privacy and take advantage of tax savings, but in essence ensures that your property goes where you direct it when your life is over. Through an estate plan, you can even make sure that your pets are provided for, or that a portion of your assets are giving to a charity of your choice.
Based on the above, it is clear that estate planning is not just for the wealthy. Instead, estate planning is a necessary responsibility that belongs to each of us. A qualified estate planning attorney can customize a plan that protects you and your family.