Estate plans are how you can designate property for specific recipients when you die. An estate plan also helps protect you in your golden years when you might be financially, medically or legally vulnerable.
The solutions that work for one person won’t necessarily be ideal for someone in a different situation. However, there are certain basic estate planning tools that are almost universally useful. Integrating the documents below into your estate plan will give you the most robust protection regardless of what the future holds.
Advanced directives and powers of attorney
Too often, those drafting estate plans only create testamentary documents that take effect when they die and not any documents to protect themselves while they are still alive. Advance directives provide clarity regarding your medical preferences, while powers of attorney can give someone that you trust the authority to handle Financial or medical matters on your behalf.
Anyone who is 18 and unmarried could benefit from drafting powers of attorney and advance directives in case of some kind of medical emergency.
The most basic estate planning document is a will. Your will can designate beneficiaries for specific assets or name a remainderman to receive property not designated to specific beneficiaries. A will is also where you can name a guardian to assume care over your children in the event of your death or incapacitation.
Maybe you think you might need Medicaid to pay for your nursing home expenses when you get older, or perhaps you have the opposite concern and worry that you may have to pay estate taxes.
A trust can be a way to protect your property from creditors, to retain control over the distribution of your assets after you die and to minimize what you might lose to taxes and creditor claims during the probate process. Whether you want to leave an inheritance for a child with special needs or someone with a history of addiction issues, a trust can be a valuable way to protect your legacy wishes and also your property as you get older.
Talking with someone about your specific family circumstances and personal property can help you determine the right estate planning documents to create for your goals and unique challenges.