There’s a common misconception that you only need an estate plan if you have a spouse or children. However, this could not be further from the truth. Your estate plan is so much more than what assets you have to pass down, it is also about who will make decisions for you, both medical and financial, should you be unable to make them for yourself. If you have any hopes and wishes pertaining to your end-of-life care, financials, healthcare, pets or estate – no matter how big or small – then you should have an estate plan in place.
Without an estate plan, you are gambling with your assets by leaving the decision of how they’ll be dispersed to State law. We recommend starting your estate plan with these, these three simple documents.
Start with documents relevant during your life:
Power of Attorney
Powers of Attorney are valid only during your life and allow you to choose who you want to make those important health care, legal, and financial decisions should you be unable to make them for yourself, such as during incapacity, both temporary and long term. Many people confuse the power of attorney with a last will and testament. The powers of attorney are only relevant during your life and become void at death. Oftentimes, these documents are the most important documents to put into place as we never know if and when we will be involved in an accident or an illness that leaves us incompetent.
It is imperative to have a medical directive in place so that you can communicate how you would like your medical care handled. A medical directive that communicates your wishes could be key to settling any potential disputes using life-saving measures should the situation necessitate it. A medical directive can directly communicate your wishes to your family as well as the doctors and alleviate your family from second-guessing your wishes regarding end-of-life care.
End with documents relevant at death:
Last Will and Testament
The last will and testament, relevant only upon your death, is an empowering way to communicate your last wishes. For example, if you have pets, your will can communicate how you would like them to be cared for and to whom you want them to be cared by. If you have family members that rely on you for support, your will can make specific provisions for them to continue their support while protecting the assets from themselves, their creditors, and their predators. If you are charitably motivated, your Will can communicate what charities are meaningful to you and gift some or all of your assets to those charities.
Simply put, your will allows you to choose who will receive your probate assets at death, and how each beneficiary may receive such assets. Not having a will risks your assets to being distributed to those whom you never intended to inherit from you as State law dictates who receives your assets at death. If you want control over who receives your assets, and who will care for your pets, a Will is imperative to your estate plan.
An estate planning attorney can assist you through the process of setting up your estate plan, no matter how simple or complicated it may be. If you need assistance in creating your estate plan, please do not hesitate to contact the dedicated team at Caress Law either by calling (503) 292-8990 or using the contact form on our website. Caress Law, PC also offers a Family Protector Program, which is a monthly program designed to ensure your family is protected now, and in the future. Contact us to learn more about this valuable program.