Passing It On
Passing it on – maybe this thought runs through my mind because I am getting older and in a different phase of my life. As I consider the future, what do I want done with the things that I leave behind? We are fortunate there are tools available like wills, powers of attorney, trusts and others that can help us design an estate plan to make sure our wishes are met.
A will is the most basic form of estate planning and something I would recommend to just about everyone. It is a legal document that expresses how one’s property will be distributed or transferred at death. If a person dies without a will, their estate will be settled by the state’s intestacy laws through the court system.
Guardianship is another important part of a will for those who have minor children. This segment of a will allows individuals to name who they would want to raise their children in the event both parents are deceased. This really hit home for my wife and I when our children were young, and we were going to be flying together to a conference. It made us stop and think that if something happened to us, who we would want to raise our children? This needs to be clearly spelled out in your will, or the decision will be left up to your state’s court system.
An additional consideration is to include a living will or advance directive. These documents allow you to provide instructions to doctors and health-care providers, being as specific as you can, concerning the type and degree of health care you want or do not want provided in the event you are incapacitated. Since you can’t account for every medical possibility, it is also recommended that you have a durable power of attorney for health care. This document will allow you to designate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf in emergency situations.
It is important to plan, to the best of our abilities, for contingencies we face in life and to avoid complicating things in death. Forms such as wills, living wills and powers of attorney are available online for those do-it-yourself-type individuals, but it is also not very expensive to consult with a qualified attorney to create these important documents.
I trust you will think about taking steps in making sure your house is in order.
– Allan Williams