The nuts and bolts of a good estate plan are simple and straight forward. Beyond that they are necessary for anyone who values control.
The phrase “estate planning” encompasses a number of areas. Yet most folks when they think of estate planning only think of a will. A will is a great first step but it’s just that, a first step. Estate planning is about considering almost every contingency that may arise. If I could sum up the goal of a complete estate plan it would be “control”. A good estate plan gives you control over the decisions that effect not just where your “stuff” goes but also who makes decisions on your behalf, how much power they have, who makes critical decisions for you when you are unable to. The goal is for you to have as much control over those decisions as possible.
With that in mind here are some other documents that you may want to consider in addition to a will.
Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
A statutory durable power of attorney gives you control over who makes decisions regarding you finances if you are unable to do so. You name an agent who then owes you a duty to act in your interests if you are unable to do so. Your agent has extensive power including the ability to sell real estate, manage insurance policies, sell stock, as well as other areas of control.
Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney is a document that allows you to designate someone you trust to make medical decisions for you in the event you become incapable of making those decisions for yourself. Unexpected injury or illness can occur at any time and it is critical to have a Medical Power of Attorney in place. The key is you control who makes those difficult medical decisions.
Directive to Physicians
A physician’s directive allows you to control medical care should you suffer from a terminal or irreversible condition and become unable to communicate your wishes due to incapacity. Without a directive a myriad of people including some you probably don’t know will control what life sustaining treatments are administered.
You have the ability through good estate planning to have what we all want in some form or fashion – control. Control over some of the most important decisions that we will face.