Estate planning is not just having a will or trust, rather it’s about having an overall plan designed to help and protect your family. An estate plan should be personalized to your specific current life situation. It should be reviewed every 5-10 years or if you experience a significant life event such as a marriage, a divorce, purchase of real estate, or having a baby.
An estate plan is just as important to have in the event that you became sick or injured, as it is to dispose of your belongings after you pass away. Your estate plan should answer questions like:
- Who should manage my finances if I am not able to do it because of illness or injury?
- Who should make health care decisions for me or for my minor children if I become too ill to make those decisions?
- Do the people who will need to make healthcare decisions for me be able to access my healthcare records in order to make informed decisions?
- Should the person authorized to take care of my finances be allowed to make gifts or set up a trust to reduce the amount my estate may be taxed?
- Do I want the person designated to make health care decisions for me to decide when to take me off life support or do I want to make that decision in advance?
- If I get sick, will my spouse be able to qualify me for state assistance so that my spouse is not impoverished by my illness?
- Who will care for my minor children if I am no longer living?
- At what age will my children be allowed to control the money left for them from my estate or life insurance policy?
- How do I protect my assets to falling into the hands of a relative who may have substance abuse issues and could use it to harm himself or herself?
- Who is authorized to dispose of my remains?
- Do I want to be an organ donor and if I do, do I want them donated for science or just for transplant purposes?
- Will the person designated to handle my estate be able to do it without the court micro-managing every dispersement?
In the end, a good estate plan brings peace of mind knowing that if the worst or the unexpected ever happens that your family is taken care of according to your express wishes. If your estate plan does not answer the questions above or if you have recently experienced a major life change and you would like to create or review your estate plan, please give us a call or contact us.