Halloween is just around the corner, and it seems as though everywhere you look, there are fall festivals, pumpkins, scary costumes, and stores full of festive décor. For a lot of us, it is our favorite time of the year. However, horror movies and haunted houses are one thing—the real scary moments in life are another.
Estate planning can help you through life’s scariest moments, such as illness and injury, death, divorce, and even happy-scary times like marriage, new births, and other major changes. This article will walk you through how estate planning can help you prepare for huge events in your life.
Illness and Injury
Illness and injury are perhaps the two most common items on this list of life changes, and that’s a shame, as neither are very pleasant. Luckily, estate planning can help you through these tough periods of your life, even if you’re not well enough to handle them yourself. Here are some legal tools that can aid you if you’re sick or injured:
- Financial Power of Attorney. This trusted individual is someone that you handpick and appoint to manage your financial affairs in the event that you’re too incapacitated to do so yourself.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney. Much like the financial power of attorney, this person is someone you trust with decision-making. Except, instead of financial decisions, your healthcare PoA helps you with healthcare-related issues, talking to doctors, nurses, long-term-care facilities, and more on your behalf.
- Healthcare Directive. A healthcare directive communicates your wishes to doctors and nurses in the event that you’re too sick to do so yourself. This is an intensely personal document, often consisting of DNR orders, religious views and preferences, and similar requests.
Alas, death comes for us all—as the old saying goes, death and taxes are the two unavoidable burdens in life. One of estate planning’s primary goals is to distribute assets responsibly after you die, and having documents like a last will and testament can help you do so.
A last will and testament is a final expression of your will. This legal document appoints an executor and lets the court know where your assets should be distributed and to whom. A trust, on the other hand, does not have to go through the probate process, as it is an immediate transfer of property title to a trustee for the benefit of a beneficiary.
Whichever legal document you choose, you don’t want to DIY it. Hire an attorney to draft your estate plan in order to ensure no technicalities are missed and all documents comply with the law.
Divorce and Marriage
When you get divorced, you will want to immediately revise your estate plan. You won’t want your ex-spouse listed as a beneficiary on any legal documents and changing that in your plan is a must-do. On the reverse side, the same goes for marriage. You’ll want, in this case, to add your spouse into your estate plan wherever applicable. Both of these major life events require you to take a second look at your estate plan.
When new members are added to the family, that is a cause for celebration. It is also a cause to call up your estate planning attorney. A new birth might mean a new heir, and you don’t want him or her to feel left out in your will.
The rule of thumb is that you should update your estate plan every three to five years or after a major life change like the ones listed above. Life can throw curveballs at you, but estate planning will help you keep your eye on the ball. Call WFP to draft your estate plan today.