Estate planning is often considered an uncomfortable or even morbid topic to many. However, making financial and long-term care decisions is the practical and thoughtful thing to do. If these decisions are delayed and not made in time, it can put enormous (and unnecessary) stress and heartache on loved ones.
The good news? It doesn’t have to be hard.
Here are some simple tips for estate planning that will give you and your family peace of mind without much hassle.
Estate Planning Documents
Your first step will be to compile three documents to get the process started.
- Last Will and Testament – this document dictates what will be done with your assets when you’re no longer here. Someone that passes without a Last Will and Testament automatically has their assets go equally to heirs. This can cause some issues if it is a home or similar asset with sentimental value. Sometimes there are multiple heirs and no way to split a home multiple ways without selling it altogether.
- Power of Attorney – this document identifies who will have the legal authority to act on your behalf for legal and financial matters when you no longer can.
- Health Care Directive – this document outlines your choice for medical treatment if you can no longer communicate to provide consent. It can designate someone to make health care decisions or it can get specific with life support and resuscitation directives. This could also be where you designate a senior living community you plan to retire to when the time comes or how you would like a caregiver situation to work.
Importance of Estate Planning
Estate planning is all about protecting your loved ones. It can not only ease stress and prevent difficult decisions which may cause guilt for your loved ones later, it can also protect your loved ones from the IRS. Talk to an attorney and accountant about how your Last Will and Testament can be designed to transfer your assets to your heirs with the smallest tax burden possible.
Estate planning also eliminates family drama after the passing of a loved one. Most people have a story of how a loved one’s death tore apart a family they know of (or maybe even their own).
There’s no need to add unnecessary stress to loved ones in their time of grieving. Give them the gift of preparedness.
Start Estate Planning Today
Beginning the estate planning process can be daunting, but simply start small by using free online sources to print legal estate planning documents.
These are not a substitute for speaking with your attorney and tax/accounting professional, but it’s a great start and you will at least have something written down in case of an unexpected accident, illness, or death.
Update Your Documents Regularly
Some people are responsible and create estate plans early in life, then forget about them. If it’s been more than a year since you review your estate plan, it’s time to review and update, as needed.
Talking about estate planning is never a comfortable topic. While every human on Earth is mortal, it’s not something we like to think about often. However, when it comes to protecting your family, make no delay in creating these important legal documents sooner rather than later.