Many people start the estate planning process by writing a will. They own assets and they want to pass those assets on to their heirs. A will is a way for them to make a list of their assets and specify who should get each one. They may believe that this is all that there is to estate planning and that they are then done with the process.
However, the truth is that there are many different documents you can add to your estate plan. It can go far beyond a will. For example, you may want to add a power of attorney designation to your broader plan.
Choosing an agent to make decisions on your behalf
A power of attorney designation allows an individual to address what will happen if they become incapacitated. Say that you have a heart attack or a stroke. You’re in the hospital, you can’t communicate, so someone else needs to make decisions for you. By naming a power of attorney, you pick an agent to assume this responsibility. You give them the legal ability to make these choices. You may not be making the decisions yourself, but you know that the person who does is someone who loves you, someone you trust and someone who has your best interests in mind.
You can also use a financial power of attorney. If your incapacitation lasts for an extended period of time, someone else may need to do things like pay your bills or access your financial accounts. A power of attorney designation can allow them to do this, as well. You’ll know that you’re going to be well taken care of, and that you’ll still have access to all of your assets, even if health issues have made life more complicated than it used to be.
Creating your plan
If you haven’t yet drafted an estate plan, it’s important to carefully consider all of the different options you have. When you set that plan up, you’ll want to make sure that it addresses the most important issues to you and your family and you’ll want to seek legal guidance to better ensure that it is enforceable.