Estate Planning for Seniors

Jun 1, 2016

Estate Planning for Seniors

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People spend their entire lives creating values, gaining knowledge and acquiring treasured possessions, but as the saying goes, we can’t take it with us when we go. Fortunately, there are measures we can take to ensure that these things do not go to waste when we are gone, whether they go to family members or other loved ones.

What is an estate plan?

In order to do this, we must create an estate plan. An estate plan typically includes everything that belongs to you – cars, houses, bank accounts, investments, life insurance, and all of your other belongings, such as furniture. Estate planning is simply making a plan prior to your death, for who gets receives certain possessions, when you want them to receive it, and so on.

While that briefly covers the primary part of estate planning, it can be much more in depth based upon your wishes. Within your estate plan, include any values and traditions you would like to pass on, as well as directions for your personal care if you become unable to make your own decisions prior to passing. Creating an estate plan is crucial to ensuring your wishes are honored after your passing.

When should an estate plan be created?

All too often people put off estate planning so long that they never end up creating one at all. Unfortunately, too many people have the mindset of “if I pass”, rather than “when I pass”, and the state ends up creating a plan for them after they are gone. Some believe they are not old enough to create a plan, while others believe they do not have enough possessions.

In reality, estate planning is for everyone, and it’s never too early to create one. If you make an estate plan earlier in life, it is simply important to continue updating it. 

How do I create an estate plan? 

Another reason many put off estate planning is that they worry it is too complicated or too expensive when it doesn’t have to be!

Start the process by creating a living will or living trust. Although, it is important to remember that most of your possessions will go through probate if you only have a will. This is why many people opt for a living trust because it’s more likely that you avoid probate.

Next, create a power of attorney for health care. A power of attorney will explain your healthcare wishes to your family should you be unable to make the decisions yourself. Similarly, create a financial power of attorney. This will give a family member or other loved one say over your finances should you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions.

When creating an estate plan, it’s best to consult a lawyer who can recommend anything else that is necessary to include, such as insurance policies, real estate deeds, bonds, mortgages, loans, bank account information, funeral plans and more.

Making the proper preparations and creating an estate plan will save your family from making a lot of difficult decisions when you are gone. And remember, estate planning doesn’t have to be arduous or expensive, but it does have to be done! 

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