|Valerie M. Hollar, Paralegal|
We can’t predict the future, but one thing is for sure, if we leave unanswered questions about how to settle our affairs, those that we leave behind may be left with a heavy burden. Simply put, yes, even the youthful among us need to take some time and get some degree of a plan in order. An estate plan doesn’t necessarily just mean deciding how your friends and family should divide your assets after you are gone, but also includes who would make medical decisions, who would pay your bills, and who would take care of your kids or your pets if something were to happen to you.
Every person, no matter their age, needs Powers of Attorney. There are two types of Powers of Attorney documents, a General Durable Power of Attorney and a Medical Power of Attorney. These documents allow someone to help take care of your business and medical decisions if you become incapacitated. Two other documents that are important are a Living Will and a HIPAA release form. A living will directs medical professionals to know how you wish to be treated if you are incapacitated and can’t make your own decisions. A HIPAA authorization form lets them know who they can release information to about your care.
Do you know the difference between a Living Will and a Do Not Resuscitate order (DNR)? A living will is a document that lets the doctors know how you want to be treated if you are incapacitated and there are no measures that can be taken to make you better. It usually allows for comfort care measures when death is near. A Do Not Resuscitate order is for when you do not want medical interventions to try and save your life. These are not the same documents, which is a common misconception.
First marriages are currently occurring later in life than in recent history. Couples seem to be in relationships longer these days before tying the knot. This is wonderful as it has led to a decline in divorce rates among millennials. But, it is creating a new issue. A relationship with someone does not automatically mean they are a family member in the court's eyes. It is important to have a plan in place so that your significant other can be the one making decisions for you, if that is what you want.
If you have young children, you need a will or a trust. Without naming a guardian in one of these documents, the state can appoint a guardian for your children from your family members, and it may not be someone that you want! Have you thought about how much money is needed for their care and education? If you have a complicated family situation, you need an estate plan. Divorce often leads to family situations that are less than pleasant. Often times when a spouse remarries it is important to protect their children’s inheritance from the ex-spouse or the new parent in the family. Wills and trusts can be set up to make sure that your children receive what you want them to, upon your death.
We all think that we are invincible and a lot of us have the “it won’t ever happen to me” attitude. Just because you are young, doesn’t mean you don’t need to plan. Taking the time and the money to set up provisions now is a great gift to leave those you love, just in case something tragic happens. Creating an Estate Plan means leaving as few loose ends as possible for those you love to have to tie up. You can never be too prepared, and it’s never too early to start.
Estate Planning and Divorce. http://www.divorcesource.com/ds/estateplanning/estate-planning-and-divorce-1015.shtml
Reasons Millennials Need Estate Planning. http://www.upchurchlaw.com/resolve-update-estate-plan-2018/