A will is the cornerstone of your estate plan. It allows for an organized distribution of your assets after you pass. Not only does it make sure that your assets end up with your chosen loved ones, it also reduces the legal and financial obstacles that your family and friends will face after your death. A will does the following:
- Outlines how you want your property distributed
- Names an executor to ensure that your creditors are paid and that your property is distributed as you wish
- Nominates a guardian to care for young children (in situations where needed)
Other documents that are regularly part of an estate plan include:
- Power of Attorney
- Healthcare Directive
- Trust – in some cases
A Power of Attorney gives the person that you designate the authority to act for you on financial matters, if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Unlike a will, a Power of Attorney form is “in force” when you are still living. If you become incapacitated in some manner, then the person you designated (the attorney-in-fact) has the power to handle your financial affairs for you. Despite the name, the person you designate does not have to be a lawyer, only someone you trust to handle your financial affairs.
Instead of financial matters, in a Healthcare Directive, the person you name is authorized to make decisions about your healthcare when you are unable to do so. A healthcare directive usually includes directions to your healthcare provider regarding the extent to which you want life-sustaining measures taken in an end-of-life situation.
Don’t procrastinate!! Complete your estate plan now.