“When people hear the phrase “estate planning,” most think, “That’s for wealthy people.” While wealthy people, at least the prudent ones, take the steps to plan for their estate, this type of planning is about more than wealth. It’s actually about eliminating bad outcomes and confusion for those you may leave behind.”
A recent article in The Martha’s Vineyard Times, appropriately titled “Estate planning,” explains that estate planning for your family may simply be the important task of protecting them and other loved ones.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney. If you’re a couple, you each need to have your own will to say who gets your property following your death. In many instances, the spouses select each other.
In addition, a durable power of attorney allows someone to act on your behalf for financial matters. People typically choose their spouse, if he or she is alive. Be careful if you select someone other than your spouse, because he or she can control your money. A significant level of trust is required.
Next, a durable power of attorney for healthcare is needed, in the event that you become incapacitated. Your designated agent can make healthcare decisions for you, which helps avoid arguments between family members concerning what treatment you should receive.
A living will provides details on your wishes about what kind of treatments you do or don’t want at the end of your life (it’s the “pull the plug” document). Make that decision yourself, when you’re healthy and able.
Although it’s not the most fun exercise, doing all this work eliminates many potential problems, and provides several benefits:
- You’ll provide reasonable financial stability to your family when they can most use it, and can responsibly handle it;
- You’ll control the timing and method of distributing assets to beneficiaries;
- You can be certain that your wishes are honored, if you’re no longer able to act for yourself;
- You may provide some tax benefits, so your assets last longer for your beneficiaries; and
- You can have conversations with your family about what to expect in your estate plan.
Consider estate planning as an investment, and the future return in your peace of mind will be invaluable.
Reference: Martha’s Vineyard Times (December 5, 2017) “Estate planning”