Our lives are not infinite. They can end unexpectedly in a mere instant. Unless we have certain end-of-life documents properly executed and easily accessible by our family members, our loss may not only result in creating an emotional void in our loved one’s lives, but a financial one as well.
When many individuals think of estate planning, they often don’t think they have the requisite wealth or portfolio of assets necessary to need to plan for what happens after they’re gone.
Most don’t realize that estate planning involves drafting such legal documents as health care proxies in which they appoint someone to make medical decisions on their behalf if they’re unable to do so themselves.
Others aren’t aware that, if a person dies without a will, a state’s intestate succession laws will kick in. Strange things can happen when they are activated, such as your own personal assets being passed on to a relative you don’t particularly care for — like your ex.
These are just some of the reasons why it’s important, no matter what your age, that you sit down with an estate planning attorney and begin drafting necessary legal documents to ensure that your own wishes, and not someone else’s, are upheld.
One of perhaps the first documents that you’ll want to draft is a will. If you have kids, then it’s particularly important to have one in place. In it, you’ll want to list who you’d like to be appointed your child’s guardian if something happens to you.
Another important document that should be drafted as part of your estate planning process is a power of attorney. There are two primary types of these.
One is the health care proxy, which authorizes another person you appoint to handle all medical decision-making on your behalf if you can’t. This often is accompanied by an advanced directive, whereby you clearly spell out the different triggers that would result in you being removed from life support or not being resuscitated if your life were lingering in the wind.
A financial power of attorney allows someone else to write checks, make withdrawals from bank accounts and handle other money-related affairs if you’re unable to do so yourself.
In learning more about you and your own set of circumstances, a Queens estate planning attorney may advise you of additional documents you should consider drafting as well.
Source: CBS Money Watch, “Estate planning essentials: 8 steps to protect your family,” Kate Ashford, accessed May 11, 2018