The first month of the new year is almost over, and hopefully you’ve been keeping up with your new year’s resolutions! The new year is a great time to review and reassess our priorities as well as ask some honest questions. Like, will my family be protected even after I pass away? Maybe you haven’t started your Estate Plan because it just seems too overwhelming. Perhaps it’s just not on your radar quite yet. There are plenty of excuses to not start an Estate Plan, but what about the reality of protecting your family even when you’re gone?
An Estate Plan may seem overwhelming but if you break it down, an Estate Plan is simply a collection of important legal documents that serve their own specific purpose. Here are some popular documents that you should complete and have in your Estate Plan.
When most people think of Estate Planning, they usually only think about the Last Will and Testament. It’s an important document, of course, but it’s just the start of your comprehensive Estate Plan. You need other legal documents that address concerns that aren’t explicitly stated in a Last Will and Testament. Instead, in a Last Will and Testament, you’re able to choose who inherits your assets (also known as beneficiaries), select your executor, and appoint guardians for your children.
Just as we plan for when we pass away, a Living Will allows you to plan for what to do when you can’t make decisions for yourself. For instance, if you’re hospitalized and unresponsive, you won’t be able to make decisions for yourself but in a Living Will, you can dictate how you’d like to be cared for if that day ever comes. Why is this important? For many reasons. Some people may have strong religious beliefs surrounding the idea of being resuscitated. In the end, a Living Will makes sure that your wishes are granted and none of your loved ones has to make that heartbreaking decision in your place.
Similarly to a Living Will, a Healthcare Power of Attorney addresses the same medical treatment situations where you cannot make decisions for yourself. However, instead of dictating exactly how you’d like to be treated, in a Healthcare Power of Attorney document, you designate a person to make the decisions for you. In most cases, people choose someone they wholly trust like their spouse or a close family member.
One way of helping your loved ones avoid probate is to create a Living Trust — allowing you to transfer your assets to a separate legal entity. The probate process can be a long drawn out process but by creating a Living Trust, your loved ones (or even charities) can save time and the headache so they can get their inheritance quickly and (hopefully) stress-free.
Ok, it’s not a legal document but our Estate Planning guide gives you a great overview of the whole process, from learning about debts and taxes to finding out if a Living Trust is right for you.
If you’re ready to start your Estate Plan, we can help. You can start your Estate Plan with us today. If you have any questions along the way, we have a network of lawyers that specialize in Estate Planning that can answer your legal questions.