Many who think of leaving a plan for the end of their lives may think only of a will. While a will can certainly be a starting point, a complete estate plan can include many more options. More than simply assigning who can claim your belongings after you die, you can use your estate plan to meet other goals.
Your situation is unique, and your wishes likely do not fit into a cookie cutter plan. This is why it is not always wise to simply download a document from the internet for your estate planning needs. In fact, your first step in creating a comprehensive estate plan is to learn as much as you can about the different tools available to you.
What are my options?
One of the tragic consequences of having a poorly prepared estate is that you may leave behind enough confusion and uncertainty that your loved ones may end up at odds with each other. This is a common occurrence, and many never realize that their own lack of planning created this conflict among their family members. Since you undoubtedly want to avoid this as your legacy, you may want to explore the following estate planning instruments:
- A will not only names those who will inherit your property, but it can also indicate who will care for any minor children you may leave behind.
- A trust holds ownership of any assets you fund to it so your heirs will have faster access to them without certain tax ramifications or the risk of making public the contents of your estate.
- Your financial power of attorney handles any financial or legal matters that may arise during a time when you are unable to manage them because of illness or other factors.
- Your medical power of attorney speaks on your behalf if questions about your health care arise when you are unable to express your wishes.
- An advance directive gives doctors and your agents a guide for your health care wishes, including when to administer life-sustaining care and when to provide palliative care only.
You may not even realize how these documents can help you and your family achieve peace of mind. By speaking with an experienced Washington attorney, you can learn more about the estate planning documents that are most appropriate for you and how you can use them to meet your goals for the future.