During the process of creating your estate plan, you will be forced to make difficult decisions. It’s important to take the time to think about your decisions carefully.
Take a look a look at the following list so that you know what you’ll need to consider before starting your estate plan. If you have any questions, please consult with an estate planning attorney.
- What do you want to accomplish with your planning?
- Who do you want to pass your assets to?
- Are there any people you wish to ensure will not receive your assets?
- Do you have any specific wishes regarding medical treatments and procedures?
- Who do you want to name as a guardian for your minor children?
- Do you want to appoint an agent to help you make important financial decisions if you’re ever unable to?
- Do you have an opinion about funeral planning arrangements?
- Do you want to make sure that your loved ones will always be cared for financially?
- Do you want to include your pets in your estate plan?
- Do you have ideas of who you would like to manage your estate affairs after you die?
- Do you want to appoint an agent who will be responsible for helping to make important medical decisions, if you’re unable to?
- Do you need to include planning for a special needs child?
- Do you want to leave assets to your children in the form of a protected trust?
- Do you know who you would trust to handle the assets designated for the care of your children?
A basic estate plan consists of a well thought out, integrated plan which should include the following documents:
- Revocable Living Trust. This holds title to your property and avoids probate and public scrutiny of your affairs. It can be extremely flexible and provide direction for your assets and heirs for years to come.
- Will. At death, this can transfer any remaining assets to your Trust.
- Financial Power of Attorney. This appoints a trusted person to make financial decisions if you are unable to make them for yourself.
- Health Care Power of Attorney. This appoints a trusted person to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to make them for yourself.
- HIPAA Power This designates those individuals who are allowed access to your protected health information. Without this important power, a health care provider like a hospital may refuse to provide any information to your family, including whether you are even in their care.
Take the time to think about your estate plan goals. By thinking about difficult topics, and making important decisions, you will be able to have a plan in place for the unexpected. If you have any questions about your estate plan needs, or if you’re ready to start your estate plan, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.
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