Make Your Own Decisions with an Estate Plan
Do you know what an estate plan is and why you are supposed to have one in place? Do you know the purpose? There is more to an estate plan than simply drafting a will or a trust. It’s more than just ensuring that your assets are transferred seamlessly to your heirs upon your death. The purpose of an estate plan is simple but profound: to allow you to make your own decisions.
Don’t waste any more time – put the pieces in place today to keep the decision making power in your own hands:
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Beneficiary Designations
- Letter of Intent
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Guardianship Designations
Does your estate plan include the items mentioned above? Each item on the list is there to make sure you don’t leave any decisions to chance.
A will or trust is one of the main element of an estate plan even if you don’t hold significant assets. Wills ensure the property is distributed according to your wishes and trusts help limit estate taxes and avoid legal issues.
Durable power of attorney (POA) allows an agent or person you assign to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. Without a POA, the court may be left to make decisions on your behalf regarding assets if you are found to be mentally incompetent, and the court’s decision may not be in line with your wishes.
Beneficiary designations must be maintained regularly on any accounts that require you designate such on the account (like insurance plans). If you don’t designate beneficiaries as needed, a judge, who is unaware of your situation or intentions makes the decision.
A letter of intent is a document left for the executor or a beneficiary to define how you want a specific asset, or other detail managed. For instance, some letters of intent specify wishes regarding funeral details. Not always recognized as valid in the eyes of the law, the letter of intent can help inform the probate judge of your intentions and could help in asset distribution if the will is deemed invalid for whatever reason.
The healthcare power of attorney (HCPA) assigns another individual (usually a spouse or family member) with the ability to make healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacity. Pick someone you trust who shares your views and always designate a back-up agent.
If you have minor children or are considering having kids, make sure you include a guardianship designation clause in your will or trust. Again, make sure to designate a back-up. Without a guardianship designation, the decision would be left up to the court.
There is more to estate planning than divvying up your assets when you die. Keep the decision-making power in your court with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney at Elder Solutions Law Firm.