Our readers may or may not be aware, but October 15 through October 22 is Estate Planning Awareness week. Admittedly, estate planning awareness is something lawyers like because it highlights the services they can offer. But the reality is that everyone can benefit from engaging in estate planning at an appropriate level.
Estate planning obviously has a large focus on final wishes. This includes things like drafting and signing documents that protect the one planning, as well as providing for loved ones and reviewing beneficiary forms. But estate planning can also be more than that. It can also be a way to think about what one hopes to accomplish in one’s life.
The first set of concerns-about protecting oneself and loved ones-is the core of what one does with an estate planning attorney. Estate planning can be as simple or as complex as one needs it to be. Basic documents include a health care power of attorney and living will, a power of attorney.
Everybody, but especially those with families, should give some thought to providing for loved ones after their death. Failing to do so will put the task of determining where assets go into the hands of the state, and the default rules may produce undesirable results. Parents can address guardianship for minors in a will, and this is often the most important reasons folks decide to do estate planning. More can be done, though, for those with more complex plans.
Reviewing beneficiary forms is important, because it ensures that retirement and insurance account proceeds will go to the proper persons.
Beyond these aspects, which are only the beginning of estate planning, there are other, more personal goals that come emerge amidst estate planning. These include identifying life goals, ensuring that one lives in the way one wants to be remembered, and letting family members and friends know how much you care. These issues are closely related to estate planning, and very much a part of it.
Source: Forbes, “Six Things To Do Before You Die,” Deborah Jacobs, October 12, 2012.