Planning for the possibility of incapacity and the certainty of passing away is an uncomfortable topic for most people. However, failure to plan for these events can sometimes lead to unintended financial outcomes, family tension and many other negative and sometimes heartbreaking consequences. While the strategies may vary, estate planning is important for everyone no matter the size or complexity of the estate.
All effective estate plans should include, at minimum, three important documents:
- A Durable Power of Attorney allows a trusted person to manage your property and make decisions on your behalf during your life and in case you are ever unable to take care of yourself.
- The Healthcare Directive is your opportunity to record your wishes for continuing or removing life sustaining treatment if you are ever suffering from a terminal and non-recoverable condition.
- Finally, a Last Will and Testament allows for the management and distribution of your property after death.
There are many other tools available depending on the size and complexity of financial and family affairs. For example, many Americans also are using revocable (or “living”) trusts to avoid probate and to manage their estates both during their lives and after they have passed.
Like any other important product or service, your choice in planning advisors should be made with care. Find someone who will listen to you, make you feel comfortable about discussing and making these choices and who will help you to achieve your objectives.
I offer an initial consultation and preliminary analysis at no charge that allows potential clients the opportunity to make an informed choice about their legal service advisor and estate plan strategy before committing financial resources. Each plan, like every person, is unique and I pride myself on offering a custom and personal solution for all clients.
I would be happy to discuss your plan with you; however, whether you choose to contact me or not, I strongly urge everyone to make a plan. And, if you have a plan already, it should be reviewed at least every 3-5 years for changes in the law and in your situation and circumstances.