The Questions All Families Must Answer

When families first consider doing an estate plan, they think primarily about the
need for a Last Will and Testament to answer the question “who gets my stuff?”
While this is an important part of an estate plan, it is only a small part of the bigger
picture. This article will address a few of the other questions your estate plan
should answer.

1. Who is in control of my things and me? If you were to become incapacitated due
to an accident, who would make decisions on your behalf tomorrow? This question
is typically answered with a document called a Durable Power of Attorney and is a
crucial part of your plan. These documents vary in their terms and have strict
creation requirements, however, so be wary of a “standard” form you may find
online.

2. Who can access your things? Most people know that a Last Will can shift
ownership of assets upon your death. But, how do we shift access and ownership if
you are still alive, but incapacitated? For example, it can make perfect sense to shift
ownership of assets to a spouse or child if you would need a nursing home. Make
sure you consider this issue… it could save your home from healthcare costs.

3. Do you have any special situations? Is it possible that a young or disabled person
may receive an inheritance from you? Are you concerned about a son or daughter
losing assets to a divorce? If so, special care should be taken to provide for these
heirs to receive their inheritance in a trust.

4. Should you protect your assets? The biggest threat most families face is the costs
associated with the nursing home. You can protect assets with a comprehensive
estate plan.