Estate planning refers to the process of outlining your wishes to be carried out both during life and after death. By preparing legal documents to create your estate plan, you have the power to make decisions regarding the management of your assets and safeguarding your loved ones from legal complications all while protecting your wishes. Just like every individual is unique, no two estate plans are the same. Nonetheless, there are a few key documents everyone should at least consider. When you meet with an experienced estate attorney, you can expect to discuss your last will and testament, durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney and advance directive (also known as your “living will”).
Estate planning is often postponed or overlooked, especially among healthy, young individuals, but it is important to understand that planning encompasses the process of identifying who will manage your affairs or make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so while you’re living. For example, if you are in a car accident and left unconscious for weeks, you are unable to handle two critical areas of your life (1) your legal and financial affairs and (2) your own health care decisions during that period of unconsciousness. Having an estate plan in place can help ensure you have named those you trust most to make sure your wishes and needs (and your family’s needs) are taken care of. While we all hope to avoid circumstances of unforeseen tragedy, it is critical to have a plan in place.
Over the next few weeks through a series of blogs, we will discuss the importance of estate planning by reviewing the common tools used by attorneys to help you build your legacy and how to avoid common mistakes when planning (or worse – failing to plan) ahead. Check back next week to learn the importance of two key legal terms – intestacy and testacy.