There is more to estate planning than just writing a will

When people in Lee County think of estate planning, many think of writing a last will and testament, establishing trusts and other methods for the protection and disbursement of assets after a person’s death. There is much more to estate planning, however. Often an estate plan will also include legal arrangements for who should handle their affairs and how, in the event that a person becomes, for some reason, unable to make decisions for themselves.

Often included when drafting estate planning documents is a living will. Unlike the more common last will and testament, this legal document establishes what a person themselves would do in the event of a terminal medical condition, particularly in regards to life support. If someone does not want to be kept alive using machines, a living will can make that known so that their wishes are followed out, even if they cannot express them. Living wills may also indicate whether or not a person wants to be resuscitated by medical professionals using a defibrillator or other method should their heart stop.

Durable powers of attorney are another type of directive that is commonly included in estate plans. It can be important to include a durable power of attorney specifically for health care. This authorizes a person of your choosing to specifically oversee and make decisions regarding your medical treatment and care.

Without an estate plan in place with provisions made for if a person becomes incapacitated, family disputes or other issues could result in the legal responsibility for a person’s well being and care being put into the hands of a stranger by the court. An attorney can help create a complete estate plan that includes the necessary advance directives to avoid this type of situation, as well as express a person’s final wishes.

Source: The MetroWest Daily News, “Beyond wills: other essential elements of an estate plan,” Ruven Rodriguez, Nov. 3, 2013

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