Estate planning, where you make decisions about your future and the future of your assets, is easy to put off. In fact, almost 70% of Americans have not drafted even a simple will. If you care about what happens to you and to your wealth, estate planning probably requires preparing a few different documents.
While your situation may require additional planning, using a toolbox to get most of your affairs in order may make a great deal of sense.
Your will is the cornerstone of your overall estate plan, as it outlines how you want to distribute your assets after you die. If you have already drafted a comprehensive will, you should be certain you review and update it periodically to ensure it continues both to reflect your wishes and to pass legal muster.
A power of attorney
Even if you have lived a healthy and active lifestyle, an unexpected illness or serious injury may make it impossible for you to make your own medical decisions. With a durable power of attorney, you name someone to make them for you. This designation ensures doctors, relatives, friends and others respect your medical wishes.
A living will
While picking someone to act as your power of attorney is a good idea, you may want additional peace of mind. A living will tells doctors and other health care providers about the medical treatments you want and do not want.
If you have substantial wealth or a loved one with special needs, you may want to consider forming a trust. While there are many types of trusts, this estate planning tool may minimize your taxes, provide support to individuals or organizations or accomplish other objectives.
Even though it may be easy to procrastinate when developing your estate plan, you do not want to leave important matters to chance. By acting proactively, you guarantee you retain control over your assets and end-of-life care.