Ten Reasons to do Estate Planning
Estate planning, even basic estate planning in the form of a Last Will and
Testament, Durable Financial Power of Attorney, and Health Care Power of
Attorney with Living Will, is often overlooked or not completed by many
individuals. These three documents form the basic parts of an estate plan,
which can help protect the individuals and also their assets.
Top Five Reasons to Have a Will:
5. Appointment of a guardian for minor children – Parents who
have minor children should have a Will if for no other reason than to appoint a
guardian who would responsible for those children in the event of the death of
both parents. Care should be given in selecting a guardian, as this individual
will be responsible for raising children and will have significant
responsibility related to those activities. In the event that the parents do
not have a Will appointing a guardian, a guardian would be appointed for minor
children; however, it may not be the individual that the parents would have
4. Appointing the correct fiduciaries – Under a Will, you appoint
an executor, who is in charge of carrying out the wishes set forth in the Will.
Often, if there is a potential that a minor would inherit under a Will, a Will
would include a trust for minor beneficiaries. This trust is managed by an
individual called a trustee. Selecting the right individuals for these
fiduciary positions is important and a Will allows an individual the opportunity
to select who they believe would best carry out those duties in accordance with
3. Address a charitable intent – If an individual has a
charitable intent and wishes to provide for a charity upon their death, a Will
would allow them to structure that transfer to the charity. An individual may
also set up their own charity which can receive monies upon their death.
2. Providing for a child with special needs – If an individual
has a child with special needs, it is important to have a Will to set up the
appropriate trusts so that funds can be left for the benefit of that child while
preserving any support that the child may be receiving.
1. Protecting beneficiaries – Often times, individuals who are
beneficiaries of an estate may have outside influences which may affect their
ability to properly manage an inheritance. This may be something as simple as
they are minors and the money should go into a trust until they reach a certain
age, or it may be that they are adult individuals with issues such as they are
bad at managing money, their family situation may be changing, or a myriad of
other reasons. By having a Will, you can set up certain protections to aid
beneficiaries in overcoming the obstacles or the issues they face in their
Top Five Reasons to Have a Durable Financial Power of Attorney and
Health Care Power of Attorney with Living Will:
5. Appointment of the correct individuals as agents – The
individual making the Powers of Attorney, often referred to as a principal,
selects who they would want to serve as their financial and medical agent. This
does not have to be the same individual, but, in any event, should be an
individual trusted by the principal and someone the principal believes will act
in their best interests.
4. A Durable Financial Power of Attorney allows the principal to have
assistance in handling their financial needs – In some cases, individuals
require assistance in their financial matters, including paying bills, going to
the bank, and various other instances. By having a Durable Financial Power of
Attorney, you appoint an agent who can assist you in these matters and whom you
trust. 3. Having a Health Care Power of Attorney with Living Will allows you
to make known your decisions regarding health care – The principal through
the Living Will makes choices for medical treatment which apply to situations
when you are incapacitated and are suffering from an end-stage medical
condition. Without the Living Will, your agent may not be able to make those
choices on your behalf.
2. The Health Care Power of Attorney should include a HIPAA
authorization – By having a proper Health Care Power of Attorney, your
agent will be authorized to access medical records on your behalf which they
have been prevented from doing under HIPAA. The inability to access information
or speak to doctors on behalf of a person is becoming a more common occurrence.
With a properly executed Health Care Power of Attorney, you can avoid any such
1. Avoid the need for a guardianship – By executing a property
Financial Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney, individuals can
appoint an agent who would act on their behalf in certain circumstances. In the
event that an individual becomes incapacitated and does not have these documents
in place, it may be necessary to go through a guardianship proceeding to have a
guardian appointed. This is a much longer and more expensive process.
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