No one wants to think about their own mortality, as end-of-life issues understandably bring anxiety for most people as well as their beloved family members.
But making and talking about these plans while you’re mentally and physically able can actually bring peace of mind for years to come for yourself and make things easier on the ones you love later on.
Estate planning checklist
An estate plan keeps you from losing control over your affairs while you’re still alive and unwittingly creating confusion and anger for others upon your passing. Here are four critical steps to consider now:
Health care wishes: It’s crucial that your family and close friends know what medical decisions to make for you if a crisis occurs and you can’t make those decisions yourself. This includes:
- Designating someone you trust as medical power of attorney to make health care decisions
- Draft a living will, which outlines specific treatments and long-term care options
- Choose to be an organ donor if you are so inclined
- Specify funeral arrangements (we do this in our document called “Final Disposition Instructions”)
Select an executor/trustee: This representative is responsible for managing and distributing your estate. He or she doesn’t have to be an attorney, but rather someone you trust who understands the duties entailed. You should strongly consider communicating this choice to your heirs ahead of time so they know what to expect.
Asset protection: The top four steps to protect your estate are:
- Designating a financial power of attorney, someone you trust to make financial decisions if you are incapacitated
- Creating a Living Trust so your heirs can avoid probate
- Assess potential tax issues for beneficiaries
- Explaining your decisions to your heirs so as to avoid misunderstandings, hurt feelings, or suprises
Finalize your will: Write a document that clearly states how you want your assets distributed. While you may be reluctant to share the details with loved ones, consider doing so, especially if their expectations are different from your wishes. This can help avoid potential challenges, fighting, and even lawsuits.
Consider comprehensive estate planning now
No one wants to think the worst when their health starts to decline or how their family may be affected. That’s why working with an experienced estate planning attorney now to put a plan in place can help you enjoy what will hopefully be many happy and healthy years to come.