What Does a Comprehensive Estate Plan Protect?
Most people have a vague idea of why it is important to have a last will and testament. However, few recognize just how wide-reaching a comprehensive estate plan can be. A comprehensive estate plan contains much more than a will. By utilizing a combination of different estate planning instruments, you can address not only inheritance concerns but also how medical and financial decisions should be made if you are incapacitated, who should care for minor children if you die, and other critical matters. Most importantly, an estate plan protects your right to make decisions about your life, healthcare, finances, and, ultimately, your legacy.
Distributing Assets According to Your Wishes and Your Loved Ones’ Needs
An estate plan lets you decide how your hard-earned assets are distributed to beneficiaries. A will lets you choose who should receive what assets. Advanced estate planning tools give you an even greater degree of control over how your assets are distributed. For example, you may want to leave a sizable portion of your estate to a grandchild, but you worry about leaving him or her a large sum of money at once. After all, young people often struggle to make responsible financial decisions. Through a trust, you can assign a trustee to oversee the distribution of your inheritance. You can even place conditions on the inheritance such as requiring the grandchild to complete college before he or she receives the funds.
Medical and Financial Decision Making During an Incapacitating Illness
A large part of estate planning deals with how your assets are distributed to heirs upon your death. However, estate planning can also protect your rights during your life. Have you ever considered what would happen if you become too ill to make decisions for yourself? What if you fall into a coma after suffering a severe injury in a car accident or develop dementia in your final years on Earth? While uncomfortable to consider, these are not questions you should ignore.
Fortunately, you can decide in advance who should make financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself by assigning a medical and financial power of attorney. You can also use a living will to specify the types of medical interventions you do and do not want to be utilized if you cannot express your medical wishes yourself. Living wills can address:
- Palliative care
- Organ donation
- Tube feeding
- Mechanical ventilation and other life-prolonging treatments
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
Without advanced directives, including a living will and power of attorney, important medical decisions may be left to healthcare staff or family members who must guess what types of care you would and would not want. Deciding these matters in advance gives you and your family peace of mind that whatever happens, you will remain in control of your own healthcare.
Assigning a Guardian for Minor Children
If you are a parent with young children, you may incorrectly assume that you do not need to worry about estate planning until you are older. However, estate planning is a crucial concern for parents of any age. If you and your child’s other parent pass away before your children are adults, who would you want to care for them? Would you want this decision left to a judge who has never met you or your children? Estate planning allows you to designate a guardian to care for your children in the unfortunate event that you no longer can.
We Can Help You Design a Personalized Estate Plan
Estate planning involves much more than simply assigning possessions upon your death. Your estate plan can also address medical and healthcare decisions if you become incapacitated, end-of-life care, guardianship of minor children, and much more. Contact a Naperville estate planning lawyer at the Gierach Law Firm to get started on your comprehensive estate plan. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation.