Creating an estate plan can be overwhelming. There are a lot of emotions and legal details involved, and it can be very easy for people to put off until it’s too late. However, taking it one step at a time can make this process less intimidating.
When you are ready to create your plan, focusing on some basic documents can be a good place to start.
A will is a vital component of your estate plan – and your legacy. A will determines who will get your property after you pass away and who will serve as a guardian for any minor children you have. Making a will can also have significant financial benefits as it can reduce costs, like those related to administering your estate.
When making a will, be sure it is legally enforceable, and there are no unlawful or impossible clauses. You can do this by reviewing it with your lawyer.
If you become incapacitated or when you pass away, others will need to make decisions on your behalf. These decisions can be complicated and sometimes controversial, so appointing the right people to make them is crucial.
The following are some of the substitute decision-maker appointments you can make in your estate plan:
- Powers of attorney give someone else the right to make decisions regarding your financial and legal affairs.
- Executors will make decisions regarding the administration of your estate.
- Legal representatives can have the authority to make decisions about your personal care and health care needs.
- A committee can make various decisions for you if you are incapacitated.
Appointing people to these roles yourself ensures you know and trust those who will make decisions on your behalf when you cannot.
Advance care directives
These documents detail the types of medical care and interventions you want or do not want. An advance care directive or living will ensures others respect your wishes when it comes to measures like:
- Feeding tubes
- Breathing machines
- Life-prolonging interventions
- Blood transfusions
You can also explain your beliefs and values, making it easier for others to make informed decisions on treatments that you may not specifically address.
These fundamental elements of an estate plan can provide tremendous protection and guidance during difficult times. More advanced planning tools can be worth considering in the future, but these three areas are an excellent place to start.