Estate planning is not a fun endeavour for most people. In fact, many prefer to put the task off as long as possible or, in some cases, not do it at all. No one wants to consider what will happen after they die. It is a sad reality we must all face, and the more prepared we are for it, the easier it will be for the loved ones we leave behind.
Estate Plan Basics
An estate plan explains what will happen to all of a person’s belongings and wealth once they have passed on. This will outline what will happen to your home and everything in it as well as any other assets you own. It is also designed to help minimize taxes and fees that will have to be paid throughout the process. The goal is to protect your estate and the interests of all beneficiaries when the time comes.
Estate Plans for a Living Person
Estate plans aren’t just for those who outlive you; it can also be beneficial in the event that you suffer an injury or medical condition that leaves you incapacitated. The process includes appointing Power of Attorney and a guardian. If you were to suffer an injury that left you with diminished mental capacity, then those you appointed will be given the legal right to make decisions for you and your estate. If you do not have a plan with those appointments in place, then your care and estate may end up in the hands of someone that you do not want making those decisions for you.
There are different types of Power of Attorney that can be assigned in your estate plan:
- General Power of Attorney
This appointment is set for a period of time when you are unable to make legal or financial decisions.
- Enduring Power of Attorney
This appointment goes into effect if you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself.
- Medical Power of Attorney
This appointment is permitted to make medical decisions on your behalf but has no control over financial or legal matters.
Writing Your Will
You may be able to write your own will if you have a straightforward estate with no complications. If you are unsure where to begin or have more complicated assets to account for, consider requesting the help of a professional. A properly written will should include a few basic pieces of information, like:
- Names of beneficiaries
- Name of executor
- Estate distribution
- Contingency (in the event a beneficiary dies before you)
It’s also important to remember to keep your will up to date should things change over the years. It is best to create your will as soon as possible, so you may live for decades after completing it. New assets may be introduced, and relationships may change. Your will should always reflect those changes, so there’s no question when the time comes to act on it.
Make sure your estate plan covers everything it should with the help of a licensed professional. The team at BIS Cosgrove is ready to answer your estate questions and help you plan for the future of your loved ones.