Estate planning is important for people of all ages, but as we age, the need for planning becomes even more critical. Many people avoid estate planning because they do not want to think about end of life, failing health or disability. Others believe that an estate plan is only for the rich. However, an estate plan is helpful for families regardless of overall wealth.
What is an estate plan?
An estate plan is a comprehensive way to instruct how your estate should be settled and distributed after your death, and how your assets should be managed if you become unable to make financial or health care decisions. Further an estate plan can save you and your successors’ substantial money in court costs, legal fees, and taxes (probate).
What considerations go into an estate plan?
The estate is all the property owned both individually and jointly, including bank accounts, real estate, jewelry, etc., and what is owed. Without an estate plan, it is very difficult to carry out a person’s wishes and can bring on long, drawn-out probate that can be very expensive for the family. If an estate plan is in place, it can provide peace of mind for the senior adult and their family, as well as protection for the wishes of the senior.
More often than not, a good estate plan consists of the following:
- A Living Will
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- Financial Power of Attorney
- A Trust
Do I need an estate plan?
If you only have a will, it may not be enough. While a will is a necessary document that every person should have, it is still a relatively simple document that may not cover everything you want or need. You may want to consider creating an estate plan that involves the use of a living trust, plus other important documents like a power of attorney for finances and health care directives. In short, yes, it is always a good idea to have a well-thought-out estate plan.
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