Life is unpredictable and an estate plan will provide order for you and your loved ones during times of crisis.  A good estate plan will include a power of attorney, living will, advance medical directive and a last will and testament.  If you have specific wishes for how you want to deal with real property and other assets, consult with an attorney to determine if a trust is necessary.  Here are my top 5 reasons why everyone-single or married- needs an estate plan:

#5- To Help Your Family Make Tough Decisions

There is a legal document called an advance medical directive that gives specific instructions to your doctors about your care should you become incompetent or otherwise unable to make decisions for yourself.  In this document you can state whether you want life-sustaining procedures to keep you alive in the event of an emergency or whether you would prefer to die naturally.  When emotions are running high your family may feel uncomfortable making these decisions or there may be a dispute about what to do. Having a properly executed advance medical directive will settle any issues that may arise about your care.

#4- You Want Your Spouse to Know Where Things Are in Case Something Happens

In this age of digital assets, many of my clients do not contemplate sharing their passwords with their spouses or loved ones in the event something happens.  If your spouse pays bills online from his or her bank account or manages assets online through trade accounts or investment accounts, make sure you know where the passwords are in the event something happens so you can prevent any added frustration in the midst of a crisis.

#3-You Don’t Want Your Brother-In-Law to Become the Legal Guardian of Your Children

Michael Jackson had a chaotic life, but he had his affairs in order when he passed away at the young age of 50.  Remember Debbie Rowe, Jack-o’s “baby mama”?  Well, he made sure that she would not become legal guardian of their children upon his death.  In his will, he appointed his mother, Catherine Jackson, as the legal guardian of his children.  If you have minor children or are the current legal guardian for someone else’s children, think about who you would want to raise them if something were to happen to you or your spouse.  This is a serious decision and it should be memorialized in your will.

#2- Your Kids Are Irresponsible

Let’s face it: some of us are worried that our children (or their spouses) will squander any inheritance that we leave them.  For this reason, many folks adopt the logic that instead of having a will they would rather spend it all before they die and leave their children to their own devices.  The problem with that logic is that it assumes you will live to spend it all and it ignores the reality that leaving an inheritance can be beneficial for both you and your heirs.  With the proper estate plan, you can set parameters around your assets, including your life insurance, so that your children will not be able to do whatever they want with the assets that you leave behind.  Consult an estate planning attorney who can help you establish a thoughtful estate plan.

#1- You Want to Leave a Legacy

Proverbs 13:22 says “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.”  It is a good thing to leave real property, businesses and other assets behind to let your loved ones know you care for them.  You can make tax-free gifts during your life time (up to $14,000 each year for individuals and up to $28,000 each year for married couples) and you can bequeath gifts to people or charities through a will or trust.  Whatever you decide to do, having an estate plan ensures that your wishes will be honored during this lifetime and beyond.

 For more tips on estate planning, contact Yaida Ford at yford@new.fordlawpros.com.

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