Thursday, December 12, 2013

Estate Planning Essentials: The Big Four

Many know the old saying: "Where there's a will, there's a way!"  Most attorneys know the joke, "Where there's a will, I want to be in it!"  Whichever saying you prefer, it's clear that a will is a beneficial and essential element to everyone's estate plan. 
This time of year, people generally reflect on what they have to be thankful for and what resolutions to make.  This year, I encourage you to resolve to update your estate plan and create a will.  For a basic estate plan, I believe everyone benefits from creating and maintaining "The Big Four": 1) a Last Will and Testament; 2) a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney; 3) a Medical Power of Attorney; and, 4) a Directive to Physicians ("Living Will"). 
1) Last Will and Testament: Who would care for your children if you were gone?  Who will divide and distribute your property when you are gone?  Who will inherit your grandfather clock?  A properly drafted will should answer those questions and also allows you to designate a guardian for your minor children, specify the executor of your estate, and outline your wishes to be carried out after your passing. 
2) Statutory Durable Power of Attorney:  If you become incapacitated, someone will need to handle your business affairs and make decisions on your behalf.  A statutory durable power of attorney allows you to designate this person to act on your behalf.
3) Medical Power of Attorney:  Should you be incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes regarding medical treatment, someone else will take on this responsibility.  Designating someone as your medical power of attorney allows you to select a person who knows your values and wishes for medical treatment if you are unable to communicate with your physicians.
4) Directive to Physicians:  Perhaps the greatest gift you can give your loved ones is peace of mind.  A directive to physicians allows you to specify whether you wish to receive life support to remain alive despite a terminal or irreversible condition or whether you would like to be kept as comfortable as possible.  Making this decision and directive to physicians allows your family to be sure they are carrying out your wishes, should the situation arise. 
Take the time to consider those you're thankful for this year, and update your estate plan.  For more information or to discuss your estate planning needs, contact me to schedule a conference.

1 comment: