Why do estate planning? Many people do not think it is necessary.  One person may say, “I only have a house and a bank account, so I do not need to prepare a Will.” Not true, a Will helps to make sure that your assets go where you want them to go after you pass away.

Another person may say, “My spouse or my child will pay my bills if I become ill.” Not true, unless the spouse or the child has authority to access the bank account.  This is why it is important to plan ahead with an elder law attorney and to prepare for life’s eventualities, whether it is disability, incapacity or death, so that you can decide what will happen to your assets and who will be in charge of your financial affairs or your medical decisions.  

To do estate planning, put information together about your family and its financial situation, what assets you have and where these assets are located. List your insurance – whether it is life insurance (how much), long term care insurance, disability insurance, homeowners insurance, car insurance or umbrella coverage. List your credit cards, loans and other debts, too.  Remember, if something happens, your family needs to know as much as possible about all of the important information that you carry around in your head.   

Learn from an elder law attorney what legal documents you can have drafted to take care of your own needs and those of your family, such as a Last Will and Testament, a Durable Financial Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will or a Trust. It is best to have these documents prepared with good legal advice to protect you and your family. Please check out some of my prior blogs for more specific information about these estate planning documents.