Facing your own mortality can be difficult and creating a thorough estate plan normally requires answering some tough questions. Many individuals do not wish to think about their own unexpected incapacitation, end of life provisions, and a host of other subjects that make many people squirm. Still, considering some of the following issues can provide you and your loved ones with invaluable piece of mind.
One of the most important tasks for parents who are planning their estate to is to select a guardian for their children in case they both happen to pass away. Too often, parents who are unsure who to choose simply put the question off. Unfortunately, doing so will generally leave the decision up to a judge you may have never met.
It is also vital that you disclose all of your descendants and other important relationships to your estate planning attorney. If you have secret children from a previous relationship or a long-term significant other that your spouse is unaware of, this can potentially have a dramatic effect upon your estate plan. By explaining the situation to your lawyer ahead of time, even if in private, you have the ability to save your loved ones great emotional and financial costs in the future. Civil unions, domestic partnerships, and divorces that were never finalized may also affect your estate plan. Unfortunately, your attorney cannot assist you in planning for your end of life obligations if he is unaware of a legally significant relationship.
Another often overlooked question involves who will care for your pets. To many, pets are a valued member of the family. Someone with a number of animals who have a long life expectancy may need to create a trust in order to provide the financial resources required for their care. Others may simply need to ask a trusted friend or relative to care for a beloved dog in their absence. A capable estate planning lawyer will explain your options based upon your individual circumstances.
Although unpleasant to contemplate, another question when planning your estate involves who you would like to inherit if everyone in your family is killed. Is there a particular charity that you would like to leave your assets to? What about more distant relatives?
Technology has created a number of new questions to consider when planning your estate. For example, have you preserved fertilized embryos or other genetic material for later use? How any children who are born posthumously are financially cared for and whether preserved genetic material ought to be destroyed in the event of your death are important factors to consider. Unfortunately, litigation often results when individuals fail to plan for such scenarios.
You should also consider end of life measures when creating your estate plan. A health care directive that names a health care agent and states when to cease medical intervention should be created. Individuals should also discuss their wishes with their health care agent. Too often, loved ones are allowed to linger for much longer than they would have wished simply because their designated agent was unsure when it was time to cease medical intervention.
In order to fully protect your loved ones, it is essential to create comprehensive estate planning documents prior to your death. By doing so, you remain in control. Relying on the courts to determine your intent following your death can be expensive and time consuming. Because state and federal tax laws and your end of life wishes may change, you should establish a relationship with a skilled estate planning attorney and review your estate plan regularly.
At Estate Law Partners, LLC, our attorneys are available to help you create a thorough end of life plan that is right for you and your family. Our attorneys assist clients with probate matters, wills, trust administration, health care documents, powers of attorney, and many other estate planning tools. To request a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, submit our online form.