Maybe you don’t care about what happens to your “stuff” when you pass, but wouldn’t you rather be the one making decisions about your health and finances if you are unable to?
Here’s the thing that most people get wrong. Even if you have no spouse, no children and no living relatives, you still want to have an estate plan in place.
Hometown Life, in its recent article, “Estate planning not just important in death,” notes that you might be making an assumption that estate planning only deals with death. That’s not true.
Estate planning now means not just what happens with your assets when you pass away, but it also concerns issues when you’re alive.
Think about what you and anyone you know would be faced with if you were in an accident and couldn’t handle your financial affairs. In those situations, a court may decide to appoint an individual to manage your affairs. The odds are that the judge will appoint someone who doesn’t know you. That means you have no idea what they’ll do. It’s not as easy as you’d think to regain your power once you’re healthy again.
Who do you think is going to pay to have your affairs managed? That would be you.
These are a few good reasons why you want to have an estate plan. In the unlikely event you can’t handle your affairs, you’ll have someone you want assigned that task.
Another issue that concerns having an estate plan now, is medical decisions. You should have a medical durable power of attorney that lets you state in writing your wishes when it comes to medical care and also designates the person you want to make those decisions. If you don’t appoint someone, the doctors and the hospital will make medical decisions. Those decisions may not be what you would have wanted. An estate plan lets you convey your wishes regarding a medical situation.
You can see that it’s important to quit thinking of estate planning as only planning for death. It’s a pretty confusing and complex world that’s constantly changing. You need to protect yourself.
Give yourself the gift of an estate plan. You’ll know that someone you have selected, not a court who doesn’t know who you are or what matters to you, will be legally able to make decisions on your behalf, if you can’t. Think of it as a gift of peace of mind.
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