Estate Planning Goals at Any Age

Some common misconceptions about estate planning are that they are only for wealthy individuals and that young people do not need them until they are older. The fact is that most everyone, regardless of finances or age, needs a solid estate plan.  By setting estate planning goals today, you can be ready for the future.

Goal #1:  Make Completing Your Estate Plan a Priority

Each year countless people die without having an estate plan in place.  This is often the product of believing that they will have lots of time to get their plan completed.   Unfortunately, unexpected life circumstances sometimes arise which require that estates be managed.   By not having your plan in place, you risk leaving decisions about your estate and, in some cases, potential guardianship of minor children, up to Michigan law rather than your preferences.  Additionally, not having a plan can leave critical issues regarding your finances and medical care up to a legal process rather than your choices.  Deciding to create an estate plan will not only ensure that these important matters are addressed but will also relieve your loved ones of the burden of having to manage these issues without your direction.  If you do not have a plan already, it would be prudent to set a goal have your plan completed within a certain number of months.

Goal #2: Make Sure You Have a Will, and That it Is Up to Date

Your last will and testament is the document which sets out, among other things, how you wish for your estate to be distributed.  This document provides unequivocal evidence of what you, the will creator, want to happen regarding your estate and, in some cases, guardianship of your minor children.  It also allows you to designate a personal representative to oversee the management of your estate as it goes through probate and distribution. By having this document in place, you ensure that your beneficiaries and the court have clear guidance as to your final wishes.  Additionally, if you have a will in place, it is essential to revisit its terms every few years in order to make sure it comports with your preferences and current law.

Goal #3:  Designate a Patient Advocate and Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

In Michigan, a Patient Advocate Designation (sometimes called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care) allows you to name someone who can make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.  Having someone named in this role is critical as it will enable you to decide who will make decisions about your health care if you are not able to do so.   Likewise, you can also designate someone to make decisions regarding your finances through a Durable Power of Attorney for finances.  This person will be in a position to protect and manage your assets in the event you are not able to do so.  Having both of these decisions made before incapacitation will ensure you have the advocates of your choosing.

Having a plan for your care and your estate will not only give you peace of mind but will also ensure your loved ones can make decisions which comply with your wishes.  We have knowledge and experience helping people plan for their estates and can inform you about your options.   Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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