The best part of being an estate planning attorney is helping folks in our community…
It is hard to believe that summer is already drawing to a close and harder yet to acknowledge that 2021 is more than half over. The past year and eight months have at once flown by and moved at a lurching pace. The pandemic has disrupted not only our daily lives but our very sense of time. Wasn’t it only yesterday that we gathered carelessly with friends over dinner? Or was that a lifetime ago? With our rhythms so off-kilter it can be easy to procrastinate on important life projects and yet where estate planning is concerned, doing so can bring tragic consequences.
Estate Planning is Not Just for Your Golden Years
People commonly believe that an estate plan is something you build in your post-retirement years to prepare for your eventual passing. While organizing how your assets will be distributed to loved ones is an essential part of the task, it is far from the complete picture. Estate planning also involves planning for a sudden illness that might require you to take a leave of absence from work. It involves figuring out what will happen should you suffer a tragic accident and become incapacitated. A robust plan works out how your loved ones will remain protected and cared for, who will make medical and financial decisions on your behalf, and should the unthinkable happen, who will care for dependents in your absence. Lastly, an estate plan involves taking steps well ahead of time to ensure you will be able to afford long-term care should you ever need it.
Failing to institute contingency planning for life’s many pitfalls exposes your family to undue risk and heartache. The Covid-19 pandemic has been relentless in teaching us that untold tragedy can happen without warning which is why it is crucial that every adult have, at a minimum, the following documents in place.
Four Essential Estate Planning Documents
1. A Will
A will dictates who will gain ownership of your assets after you die. Without a will, your life’s work will be distributed according to your state’s intestacy laws instead of your own wishes.
2. A Financial Power of Attorney
This document allows you to authorize a person to manage your financial affairs should you suffer incapacitation and be unable to do so yourself. Several types of power of attorney documents exist and so it is important to speak to an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure you choose a type that meets your needs.
3. A Medical Power of Attorney
Sometimes called an advance care directive, this document states your care wishes and designates a person to make medical decisions on your behalf should you lose the capacity to do so.
4. A Living Trust
Trusts serve a range of purposes, but all share the common feature of taking assets you own and placing them in the ownership of the trust. These assets are then managed by a trustee when you die and distributed according to the terms outlined in the trust agreement. Trusts are commonly used to avoid probate proceedings but have many other applications, as well.
To learn more about instituting these essential documents and building an estate plan that protects you and your family from heartache, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm, either by calling 417-623-2062 or using the contact form on our website.
Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm