Many people associate estate planning with that one inevitable aspect of life we don’t like to think about: death. However, we should not ignore the importance of estate planning with regard to situations that may occur while we are still living. Estate planning is a prudent measure to take, for example, in situations where we are no longer able to manage our own assets or medical decisions due to certain physical or mental conditions.
Seasoned estate planning attorneys can tell you anecdote after anecdote about clients who were in the middle of completing their plans when tragedy struck. This does not necessarily mean that the client unexpectedly passed away; in many cases, the client lost their faculties following an accident, or the onset of an incapacitating medical issue. Modern estate planning not only considers this possibility, but also prepares clients for such situations.
Similar to saving or investing, drafting an estate plan is something you will want to do as early as possible. There are a few estate planning tasks, however, that you will want to complete now—yes, today—to protect your assets while you are still in good health.
1. Drafting a Financial Durable Power of Attorney
There may come a time when taking care of your financial affairs will not be possible due to aging or illness. This is the kind of situation that calls for a legal document known as a durable power of attorney. In essence, this power of attorney may go into effect when you are deemed incapacitated, or otherwise of unsound body and mind. The individual you designate as your agent or attorney-in-fact can be a loved one, family member, friend, or even a professional advisor.
2. Advance Directives
An advance directive consists of two important documents: a healthcare power of attorney and a living will. A living will outlines your wishes for medical treatments you do or do not wish to receive, for example, being placed on a feeding tube or ventilator. A healthcare power of attorney grants a trusted agent the power to make medical decisions for you. You should trust this agent to make decisions in alignment with your living will. Depending on where you live, the living will and health care power of attorney may be separate documents.
3. Finalize the Appointment of Executors
Whether your estate plan features a complex trust or a simple will, you always want to make sure that you have named executors (also known as personal representatives) to carry out your wishes. You will want to sit down with prospective executors now, in order to get a feel for whether they would be able to carry out your wishes as stipulated. Also consider who would be willing to take on this role if the initial executor is not available? When your estate plan includes a trust, it is important to appoint the right trustees, and trust protectors.
4. Gathering All Vital Documents
Think about all the things your loved ones or executors will need in order to carry out the wishes of your estate plan: documents, identification cards, PIN codes, username/password credentials, asset list with property titles, trust documents, and more. These are all documents that need to be incorporated into your plan, and copies should be given to trustees and executors in case of medical emergencies or death.
Like saving or investing, the best time to get started with estate planning is now—while you are healthy in body and mind. Every adult over the age of 18 should have certain estate planning documents in place, so if you have yet to get started…the time to stop procrastinating is now.
Contact Caress Law, PC to get started securing your future, for peace of mind today.