As you get older, the number of assets you retain may grow and your family may, too. Everything may be falling into place, and you feel that you have all that you need.
Now, imagine that you were to suddenly pass away or become impaired. How would you want to be cared for? How would you want to divide your assets among your family members?
These are questions that you can answer with your estate plan. In your estate plan, you will need to include several items such as:
- Beneficiary designations
- A will
- A durable power of attorney
- Guardianship designations
- A letter of intent
- A health care power of attorney
These items help guarantee that your assets and dependents are protected if you cannot take care of them any longer.
Of these items that you should include in your estate plan, arguably the most important is your will. Your will helps prevent your estate from going through probate, which takes a long time and can be difficult for your family to cope with. Your will also discusses your wishes, so that you can inform others of what you’d like to see happen with your assets after you pass.
You may also want to assign a durable power of attorney and health care power of attorney right away. Your durable power of attorney is in charge of your finances when you cannot take care of them yourself. Your health care power of attorney is in charge of taking care of you and making decisions regarding your health if you cannot do so yourself. In both cases, the individuals are bound to make decisions that are in your best interests at all times. They cannot take advantage of the situation, meaning that their actions should be supportive of your wishes at all times.
Do you need an estate plan if you don’t have children or are still young?
No matter your age or how many people are in your family, it’s smart to have a will and estate plan. Having this plan in place protects you just as much as it protects your assets and beneficiaries or heirs. If you don’t have family, you can always leave assets behind to your friends or other loved ones who may not receive assets based on state law. Your attorney will talk to you more about the benefits of setting up an estate plan.