Updated: Jun 25, 2018
Creating an Estate Plan is more important - yet easier - than you may realize.
Creating an estate plan is one of the most important items you can do for yourself and your family. However, a reoccurring common theme I witness on nearly a daily basis from my own friends, family members and potential clients is one of procrastination. Let's face it - no one wants to face the inevitable, and planning for it, or even thinking about it, makes it seem all the more real. However, the relatively small amount of time it takes to create an estate plan is minuscule compared to the amount of time a grieving family spends as they attempt to navigate your passing, the complexities of probate and trying to decipher what your last wishes could have been during one of the most difficult times of their lives. There is no 'correct' age to begin your estate plan. Proper estate planning is just as important for the single 20-year-old college student as it is for the married couple in their early 30s with 2 minor children as it is for the 85-year-old widow. Many people (myself included) spend a significant portion of their income on insurance premiums in an effort to protect against the 'what ifs' that could happen in life; yet, little or no time is spent on the 'when' that ultimately will happen to us all. However, the peace of mind that accompanies knowing you have your 'house in order' (as my grandmother was so fond of saying) is worth its weight in gold.
Living Will / Advanced Directive for Health Care
“Everyone - no matter their age, financial status, or place in life - will have an estate when they die. The only question then is - who gets it?”
An Advanced Directive for Health Care, commonly known as a Living Will, directs your treating physician to honor your wishes regarding life support and nutritional support in the event you are permanently unable to communicate your requests. A Living Will helps your family and loved ones avoid having to make a life-altering decision on your behalf, and allows them peace of mind knowing your wishes are being fulfilled.
Durable Power of Attorney
An Alabama Durable Power of Attorney allows you to name a person, known as your Agent, to care for your financial matters in the event you are determined to be disabled, incompetent or incapacitated. Being Durable, this form of Power of Attorney lies dormant until one of three conditions are met. However, in the event the time comes when you need it, you will have the peace of mind knowing everything is in place and ready to go.
“Smart estate planning is a continual process that changes as your life changes.”
Last Will and Testament
While the Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney are considered pre-death documents, which provide direction for you and your assets prior to death, the Last Will and Testament is a post-death document, and is the final document of your Estate Plan. As simple or complex as you want to make it, your 'Will' allows finality for your estate and provides you the opportunity to pass along your assets while preserving your legacy.