Estate planning can be an intimidating, uncomfortable topic to think about. Thus, people tend to put off estate planning or rush through the process without giving it the consideration it deserves. However, these approaches can result in costly oversights and gaps in planning.
This is not to say that you must have every detail covered when you get started – you can update and revise your plan over time. When you are ready to begin the planning process, focus on the fundamental elements that provide the protection you need.
What to include in your estate plan
To create a solid foundation for your estate plan, consider having the following essential elements:
- Your will – This document defines your wishes regarding property distribution and details whom you want to serve as your executor.
- An advance care directive – If you cannot express your wishes regarding medical care and quality of life, an advance care directive provides the guidance others need to make decisions for you.
- A durable power of attorney – Appointing a durable power of attorney grants someone the right to make financial decisions if you cannot do so yourself.
- Health care power of attorney – This person will have the authority to make medical-related decisions on your behalf. They will need to talk to doctors and may need to make decisions regarding medication and treatment options. A health care power of attorney also includes a living will.
- Guardianship documents – If you have children or pets, you can identify who should take care of your family in your estate plan with guardianship documents.
Changing your plan
Estate planning is not a single event. Over time, you can make changes and additions. And as you get older and expand your family and financial resources, you may benefit from more advanced planning solutions.
For instance, you might decide to explore trusts or family limited partnerships. You may also change your mind on inheritances or adjust your gifts to minimize tax obligations.
Whether you are beginning the estate planning process or wish to make changes to an existing plan, it can be critical to have legal guidance. You can call The Quinn Law Firm at to discuss your planning goals and what you can do to achieve those goals.