Whatever changes have happened in your life, it is important to set financial goals. Making estate planning part of those goals is important to ensure that your desires for yourself and your loved ones are honored.
What follows is a simple review of several estate-planning options available depending on your circumstances.
The first document that many people think of when planning their estate is their Last Will and Testament.
Your Will is a document that lets you express how and to whom you want your assets distributed after your death. Whether you are looking to update your Will or are considering having one drawn up for the first time, it is beneficial to take stock of the important changes in your life that may affect how you wish to distribute your assets. Have you or a loved one gotten married or divorced this year? Is there a new baby in the family? These are just some of the life events that could impact how you decide to bequeath your assets in your Will.
Establishing a trust
Another option to consider when developing your estate plan is the establishment of a trust.
A trust can be created while you are alive or upon your death as part of the overall plan within your Will. When a trust is created, you transfer your assets into it and those assets will be managed by the trustee. The trustee can be you or someone of your choosing who will then manage the assets either for your personal benefit or for a beneficiary you select.
Power of Attorney
Considered of utmost importance is the Power of Attorney. This document should be in place before you become ill or feel that it is a serious possibility in your future.
A Power of Attorney grants another person, known as your “agent,” the right to act on your behalf if you should become incapacitated or otherwise are unable to manage your affairs on your own.
Your agent has various responsibilities, such as paying your bills and medical expenses, managing your financial accounts and real estate assets, and collecting retirement benefits for you. Your agent can only act on your behalf while you are living; upon your death, their power is extinguished.
Health Care Proxy and Living Will
Of the same importance is the Health Care Proxy. This document grants another person, known as your “proxy,” the power to make medical decisions for you should you be unable to voice your own desires regarding medical treatment.
Your Health Care Proxy will be responsible for a variety of decisions, including which medical facilities you go to, which doctors and medical professionals you should see and even going to court over whether you should receive treatment.
If you have strong feelings about the type and extent of medical treatment you wish to receive under certain conditions, you should make those preferences known in a Living Will, which allows you to communicate your desires to your health care provider even if you are in a condition where there is no hope for recovery and unable to communicate verbally.
As you age, it may also be beneficial to look into Medicaid planning.
Medicaid is a government program that helps low-income people aged 65 or older, the disabled and the blind to receive in-home or nursing home care. Medicaid eligibility has specific financial requirements and the application process is often complex and difficult to navigate.
You could be held individually responsible for nursing home or in-home care if your application and asset transfers are not made correctly, so it is important to have an experienced attorney help you through the process.
The beginning of a new year is a time to look back on developments of the past year and think seriously about planning for the future. Revising or initiating your estate plan is an excellent way to start the New Year.
Oftentimes, a person will execute a Will or Power of Attorney and forget about it. It is important to take a look at your estate-planning documents every few years just to be sure that what you currently have in place is still what you want.
Place a review of your estate planning as one of your top resolutions to accomplish in the New Year. Not only will it ensure that your loved ones will be provided for and that your wishes will be reflected and honored upon your passing, but it will provide you with the peace of mind that you have designated agents or proxies in place to assist you in the event that you are unable to manage your own financial or medical affairs.
Curated from: Bizwatch