This holiday season, give your family the gift of peace of mind by getting your estate planning in order. No one likes to think about their own mortality, but it’s important to have a plan in place that deals with illness, incapacity, and death. If you’re gathering with your family for the holidays, take advantage of the opportunity to have some important conversations about estate planning. You never know—it could end up being one of the best gifts you give them.
Why You Need an Estate Plan
An estate plan is a set of legal documents that provides instructions for how you would like your affairs to be handled in the event of your death or incapacity. Without an estate plan, your loved ones will have to make difficult decisions about your medical care and finances at a time when they are already grieving. An estate plan takes the guesswork out of these decisions and gives you and your family peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be carried out.
What’s Included in an Estate Plan?
There are five main components of an estate plan: a will, a living trust, a financial power of attorney, a healthcare power of attorney, and advance directives (also called living wills).
- A will is a legal document that specifies how you would like your property and possessions to be distributed after your death. If you die without a will (called “dying intestate”), state law will dictate how your assets will be distributed, which may not be in accordance with your wishes.
- A living trust is a legal document that allows you to control how your assets are managed during your lifetime and after your death. It can be revocable or irrevocable. There are a number of benefits to creating a living trust, including avoiding probate, saving on taxes, and providing privacy for your family.
- A financial power of attorney authorizes someone else to handle your financial affairs if you become incapacitated and are unable to do so yourself. This can include paying bills, managing investments, and even selling property on your behalf.
- A healthcare power of attorney designates someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. This can include decisions about life-sustaining treatment, pain management, and other issues.
- Advance directives are legal documents that express your wishes regarding life-sustaining medical treatment in the event that you are incapacitated and unable to communicate those wishes yourself. Advance directives typically take the form of living wills or healthcare powers of attorney.
Estate planning is an incredibly important—but often overlooked—gift that you can give your family this holiday season. It provides peace of mind, control over how assets are distributed, and can even help reduce taxes and provide for loved ones with special needs. So don’t wait—start planning today. Contact our office if you need assistance or if you’d like to purchase a gift certificate to give the gift of planning to a loved one this year.
This article is a service of Miller & Miller Law Group.