Contrary to what many people believe, estate planning isn’t just about writing a Will to name heirs and setting up a Trust to hold valuable assets. A well-crafted estate plan can protect your autonomy as you get older, take care of your children in case anything happens to you, and account for any future earnings or surprise windfalls you might earn over time. Regardless of your age or current financial circumstances, allowing an estate planning lawyer to guide you through completing important documents is a smart idea.
6 Things an Estate Plan Can Do That Don’t Involve Money or Property
If you don’t own a home or have a large savings account, you might not even think about what would happen to your possessions if you become incapacitated or die unexpectedly. However, an estate plan can do much more than just express your wishes for your possessions. With a comprehensive estate plan, you can:
- Plan for incapacity. If you are 18 or older, you should have documents in place that grant someone the right to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, talk to your doctors, and access your medical records if you are in an accident and are unable to do so yourself. This can be accomplished with a Power of Attorney for Healthcare and a signed HIPAA release. Do not just assume that a parent or partner will automatically be granted these rights.
- Protect your children. If you have children, you should have a Will that names guardians for them if something happens to you and your co-parent. Even if there is nothing else to include in the Will, it is important to have one, if only for this one important task.
- Name heirs for the money you don’t have yet. You might not have much savings now, but if you are employed and have benefits such as life insurance and a retirement account, your estate plan can take care of those assets according to your wishes if you die unexpectedly. As you acquire property and accumulate wealth over the course of your lifetime, your estate plan can easily be altered to account for the assets.
- Honor friends and family members. Very few people own literally nothing. You likely have pets, photo albums, artwork, handmade items, sentimental heirlooms, favorite books, a car, and even valuable clothing that you would want to go to specific people rather than leave it to a court to decide who gets what. A simple Will can name heirs for certain objects and even leave a heartfelt message for loved ones.
- Take care of digital assets. Only you know what you have stored in the cloud or on your phone. Will all of your photos and videos be lost upon your death? Is there personal information that needs to be protected? Are your social media accounts a major part of your life? You can name guardians and provide passwords for these digital assets with a special kind of digital estate plan.
- Communicate your end-of-life wishes. Even our best friends might not know what our wishes would be if we ended up on life support after an accident. Do your friends and family know whether you would want to be cremated or buried when you die? Do they know what kind of memorial service you would want? Writing an estate plan can force you to make these decisions and get them down in writing to spare your loved ones these difficult decisions.
While you can download documents from the internet and write your thoughts and passwords down in a notebook to accomplish some of these tasks, there is no guarantee that they will be located and accepted as legally binding at the time of your incapacitation or death. Working with an estate planning law firm and sharing the name of the firm with your loved ones will ensure that your wishes are honored and enforced.
Are You Looking for an Estate Planning Attorney in Texarkana, TX?
If you are looking for Estate Planning advice, you need to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Texarkana office directly at 903.223.5653. We also have offices in Tyler, Paris, and Longview, as well as Magnolia, AR!