As much as you may wish for a happy New Year, you know you cannot predict what the future will hold. You may make resolutions and plans for the days ahead, but an accident, sudden illness or devastating diagnosis can quickly complicate your intentions.
You may understand that it is not possible to prepare for every possibility. However, you may have questions about how to build an estate plan that will cover as many contingencies as possible. A complete estate plan includes much more than just a will to distribute your belongings. With proper guidance, you can establish a plan that can protect you and your loved ones before and after your passing.
Your estate plan can help you, too
The first building block of an estate plan is a will. With your will, you can designate who will receive your assets, and you can also designate someone to administrate your affairs through probate and someone to care for any minor children or dependents you may leave behind. However, there is much more you can do with your estate plan including the following:
- Protecting your loved ones from certain tax implications and a lengthy probate process with a revocable living trust
- Clarifying your wishes about the kinds of medical care you expect and when doctors should refrain from intervening with treatment by drafting an advance directive
- Relieving your family of the confusion of having to decide how and when to request extraordinary lifesaving measures for you and when to refuse such treatment
- Assigning someone the authority to make medical decisions if you are unable to speak by signing a health care power of attorney
- Assigning someone the authority to make financial and legal decisions for you under certain circumstances by signing a financial power of attorney
You may expect that your loved ones will step in and make the decisions you would make if you were able. However, this does not always happen as smoothly as you might think. For example, your children may have their own personal beliefs that are different from yours, and without your express wishes, they may be unsure how to proceed with delicate and difficult issues.
To ensure your estate plan clearly expresses your wishes and provides a lasting legacy to your loved ones, you may benefit from discussing your situation with a skilled North Carolina attorney. During this consultation, you can learn even more about the kinds of estate planning tools that are available to you and the most appropriate way to use them for your benefit.