Many people don’t realize there are multiple elements of estate planning that should be addressed, and while wills are an important part of the process, it doesn’t address all the issues that could arise.
1. Not Only for Death
A common misconception about estate planning is that it only addresses issues that arise after someone dies. The truth is there are very important issues that arise when a person is alive. Having a solid estate plan in place could help to ensure that there will be no problems between family members.
If you’ve made financial investments, including real estate, you will want to make sure these things are protected should you become ill or otherwise incapacitated. And what about the family business? If you have one, you’ll want to make sure it’s well-insulated from any problems in the event you are unable to make needed decisions.
An estate planning attorney can help you set up a power of attorney. This allows you to choose a person you trust to make important decisions in the event you are unable to, and not have the courts do it for you.
2. Your Health
There’s a possibility that you know families or have heard about families where a loved one has become ill or incapacitated and are no longer able to make their own medical decisions. When and if this happens, someone needs to have the authority to be a proxy. You have the right to make your own medical decisions as far as what you will and won’t allow as life-saving measures. If you’re unable to do so, it’s important to have someone else you trust to speak for you.
Your estate planning attorney can document those wishes in what’s referred to as a living will. You can also have your attorney draw up paperwork that will appoint a healthcare power of attorney which assigns an individual of your choice to make sure your wishes for medical treatment are kept.
3. Your Children
Having an estate plan is so important if you have young children. An estate plan can ensure they will be taken care of by naming who you want to be the legal guardian, keeping full control of who will raise your child should you no longer be here. Without this document in place, the court will decide who will raise your child and it will not necessarily be the person you would have chosen.
You can also set up financial provisions for your children. Trusts can be formed that will provide for your child as they grow up, as well as once they’ve reached adulthood. When setting up a trust, you assign someone to be the trustee overseeing the funds, and also designate when the child should take control of the funds once they reach adulthood.
An estate planning attorney, like Chuck Bendig, can explain the process to you in more depth and go over what elements would be the best choices for your specific situation.