Where Do I Start When Creating an Estate Plan?

crystal ball.jpgHealth scares are huge wake up calls for many people who had previously procrastinated when it came to their estate plan. Between the health and financial implications of a serious illness, people often realize that they have not done the requisite planning to express their wishes and protect their families.

There’s no need to procrastinate any longer. Creating an estate plan can give you and your loved ones peace of mind in knowing you have taken control of a difficult situation. To get started, here are the first steps:

  1. Determine what you want. Think about what you want to happen regarding your assets, your health, your decision-making proxies and your family. You might consider how you want to distribute your property, both valuable and sentimental. And after a health scare, you likely have thoughts about your medical care if you become incapacitated. Consider advance care directives and powers of attorney, should you be unable to make decisions yourself. Finally, think about how you might shield your loved ones from painful situations like messy probate and controversy between family members.
  2. Put your plan into writing. Once you know what you want, you can consult an attorney to help you put your wishes into a valid estate plan. Even if you discuss want you want with your loved ones, disputes and confusion can arise. And without a legally enforceable document, others may contest the veracity of your statements to others.
  3. Review it periodically. After a significant event, it can be wise to review your estate plan. Your wishes may change after things like a medical scare, marriage, death of a loved one, the birth of a grandchild or changes in state law. Reviewing your plan ensures it continues to protect your wishes and planning goals.

No one wants to think about leaving loved ones behind or becoming incapacitated. However, after a health scare, such thoughts can be inevitable. Taking steps to prepare for the worst-case scenario can give you a sense of comfort in knowing you are protecting your legacy.

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