The Importance of a Complete Estate Plan

The Importance of a Complete Estate Plan

Many people think that simply having a Last Will and Testament is sufficient to cover any issue that may arise after their death. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. While it is important to have a Will in place, there are a number of other documents that can be helpful to devising a complete estate plan.

For instance, in the event of death or incapacity, one may need a person to speak on their behalf. By granting power of attorney to someone you trust, you can ensure that they have the authority to carry out the final distribution of your assets. Before drafting the necessary documents to create a power of attorney, be sure to contact the person to make sure they are willing to take on the task - this can be a hefty responsibility.

Those granted power of attorney will make sure your financial obligations are seen to after your death, and may be responsible for the care of any underage children you might have. Many older adults choose to grant their children power of attorney, so the children can make sure that their bills are paid should they be sent to a hospital or nursing home.

Another document helpful to many is a living will. This document can allow you to make known your wishes regarding important healthcare issues, such as whether you wish to be connected to life support machines or be resuscitated during a medical emergency. As emotions run high during a medical situation, having a living will takes the stress from the family by supplying a list of your wishes.

Preparing a trust document for your family can provide direction for the distribution of your money. This is especially important should you have minor children at the time of your death. By establishing a trust in your children's name, with an adult as the executor, you can direct how much the child gets per month for their maintenance. You can also include a directive that states certain conditions - such as a child marrying or attaining a given age - under which your children may gain access to the balance of the trust.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when considering your complete estate plan:

  • If you have stocks, investments or annuities, make sure you include them in your estate plan. This can prevent the loss of the money to your survivors.
  • Make a video, if possible, showing the items in your home and stating who is to receive them at the time of your death. A video will help remove doubt as to who should receive what item after you're gone.
  • Each state has its own laws pertaining to how estates are handled. Contact your local courthouse or meet with a local attorney to find out what needs to be done upon your death.

Most importantly, make copies of all your legal documents and distribute them to your heirs. This can help greatly to minimize potential disagreements and conflicts upon your death. The legal aspects will be decided for your family according to your wishes. This will take the stress off your loved ones at a time when they should be able to focus on dealing with their grief and not the financial issues involved with your death.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Law Offices of H. Michael Soroy
At the Law Offices of H. Michael Soroy, we provide knowledgeable legal advice for individuals and families creating estate plans. We take a pragmatic, results-oriented approach to the practice of law. We begin with your ultimate goals, and then craft legal strategies to reach those goals. From offices in Los Angeles, we serve clients throughout Southern California.

Copyright Law Offices of H. Michael Soroy

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.