There is a great deal more to be considered in establishing an effective Estate Plan than just drafting a will or a trust – it all depends upon the values of the individual and their station in life. For some, the most important issue is developing a plan to minimize Federal Estate taxes. For others, the most important issue is developing a plan of support for a child with a special needs disability, or perhaps ensuring that the family business is protected and passed on. In all cases, the family situation of both traditional and non-traditional families must be considered and various options evaluated to make sure that those that you love are protected.
While the goal of every estate plan should be to insure that your assets are seamlessly transferred to the persons of your choosing upon your death, additionally estate planning consists of addressing issues during life – developing legally enforceable documents that will allow others to act on your behalf should you not be able to take care of yourself in both managing your finances and making health care decisions. In addition, an estate planning objective is making your desires(and your authority to act)be known on what you want to happen to your bodily remains-and who you want to carry out your wishes - to avoid family conflicts at the time of your death.
Some of the basics instruments that every estate plan will likely include are documents such as a will or a trust, durable power of attorney for finances, durable power of attorney for healthcare, living will and health care surrogate designations, pre-need guardianship designations and designation of agent for bodily remains.
Over the course of the next few days, we’ll give a brief definition of each of these documents and explain how they fit into an overall estate plan.