No matter how many people say that the New Year is an arbitrary event, millions of people still set resolutions and goals to align with the upcoming 365 days. While going to the gym and getting generally healthier is always a good goal, people-particularly those who have any assets or property-should also consider placing estate planning on their to-do list.
Why estate plan?
The fact is, the majority of Americans don't have an estate plan. That means, upon your death or if a tragic event renders you incapacitated all your property and wishes will be distributed without consulting your wishes. For many of us, being able to give what we want to who we want is a chief tenet of life. A smart estate plan can make sure those wishes are respected. So, where can you start?
Start with Powers of Attorney
Having durable financial power of attorney and health care power of attorney can make your end-of-life easier.Durable financial power of attorney allows you to give power to another person who may be able to control your finances should you become mentally incapacitated. This individual can help manage your property and financial affairs, and can help avoid some costly probate issues.A health care power of attorney (a designation of patient advocate), allows you to select a person to make medical and mental health care decisions if you are unable to do so, as decided by health care professionals.
But don't neglect making a will
Drafting a will is the simplest, most painless way to begin the estate planning process. While your will and testament will still need to go through probate, it does provide basic instructions on what should happen upon your death, and allows you to select a personal responsibility to distribute the property.
Finally, make a trust
Like a will, a trust can help administer your assets and property, while also having the added benefit of avoiding the probate process. Trusts are more complicated than wills and should not be taken as lightly-meaning, you should consider hiring an attorney.