You do not have to be wealthy or wait until you are advanced in age to need an estate plan. Estate Planning is important for people of all ages, and regardless of whether you are single, married or in a civil union, and whether or not you have children, grandchildren, or other heirs.
Estate Planning is not just for deciding who will receive your assets and personal belongings after you die. It has a critically important function during your lifetime: memorializing who you want to make financial and health care decisions for you if cannot make these decisions for yourself. What if you are in a serious car accident, or receive a diagnosis of Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, or other progressively debilitating condition? Estate Planning at any age ensures that you know ahead of time that a trusted friend or family member will manage your finances, assets, day-to-day care, and health care needs if you experience a temporary, progressive, or permanent physical or cognitive disability.
Estate Planning can also arrange for care and financial support of your minor children or children with special needs, or other loved ones, make clear whether you want life-sustaining treatment if you are terminal or comatose, whether you want to be an organ donor, and what your preferences are for after-life arrangements (such as burial or cremation, a funeral or memorial service, or no service, and any special requests you may have). Depending on your personal circumstances, an estate plan can include the following documents:
- General Durable (financial) Power of Attorney
- Medical Durable Power of Attorney
- Advance Directive (“living will”)
- Living Trust or Testamentary (post-death) Trust
- Tangible Personal Property Memorandum
- Instructions for Disposition of Last Remains
- Instructions for Funeral or Memorial Service