You are several steps ahead of many Americans when it comes to estate planning. Your preparation, foresight and drive led you on the path of protecting your assets and protecting your heirs and beneficiaries. You can breathe easier, or so you think.
However, you must remember that an estate plan must get regular attention. When major changes surface in your life, then you should make changes to your estate plan. And perhaps something was initially overlooked. You need to make sure that you have a comprehensive estate plan.
Business succession, medical directives and trusts
Here are some aspects of a comprehensive estate plan:
- Ensure that medical directives are in place: You need a living trust and its companion – a durable power of attorney for health care. The living will provides your decision as to whether to decline medical treatment and life-saving actions if you have a terminal condition. A durable power of attorney for health care is a document that allows you to name the person who will make medical decisions for you if you cannot. You may also consider having do-not-resuscitate (DNR) and do-not-intubate orders as part of your advance medical directives.
- Name a financial durable power of attorney: You choose the person who will make financial decisions for you if you cannot do so anymore. This represents the second durable power of attorney decision you must make. The other is the previously mentioned health care power of attorney.
- The creation of trusts: You create a trust while you are alive. A trust can be established for anyone for whom you would like to provide income. The list may include your spouse, elderly parents and children. A trustee – not you – manages the trust, which may come in a number of forms. They may range from education and special needs to spendthrift and charitable trusts. (A testamentary trust, though, is created within your will when you die.)
- Business succession: Who will take over the family business? You need a plan in place to avoid family-related infighting. Perhaps you have the right person in mind, or maybe you will choose to sell your company.
- Naming the appropriate person as guardian for your minor children: Make sure that this person or couple shares the same values as you, has the financial wherewithal to do so and has a loving home. Talk with the person before making this decision.
These represent some critical aspects of an estate plan. By having them in place you will ensure the existence of a comprehensive estate plan.
Expanding the foundation
You already have taken the initiative in creating an estate plan. But you want to make sure that a solid and exceptional plan is in place. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you build and expand upon that foundation.