We all think about it at some point in our lives. “I should make a will”. This thought is followed quickly with “I will take care of it later” or “I don’t have any money anyways”. I am here to let you know that there is no time like the present and how wills can do so much more than distribute your money. First let me explain the basics of an estate plan.
The Basic Documents
There are actually several documents that make up a basic estate plan. In Massachusetts there are three basic documents that are a part of most estate plans. They are the Living Will, the Health Care Proxy, and a Power of Attorney. Each document accomplishes a specific task to make sure your friends and family know what to do in case tragedy strikes.
The Living Will
Also called the Last Will and Testament, the Living Will is often the keystone of your estate plan. This document is the one most people think about. It is your chance to outline how you wish to pass your property and money off to others. Things to consider are who will care for your younger children or pets, who you want the house to go to (or how you want the proceeds of the sale of the house to be divided among your children), who gets the heirloom watch that has been passed down in your family, or who you want to take your military medals that you are proud you earned.
This document helps your friends and family by expressing your wishes, which can greatly reduce the chances of disagreements over who gets these items as a keepsake of their loved one (you).
The Health Care Proxy & Power of Attorney
While the Living Will is one that is useful afterwards, the Health Care Proxy, or Advanced Directive, and the Power of Attorney are important documents for when you are still alive. What these documents do is name a person, and often a backup person, who you have decided you trust to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated.
The Health Care Proxy allows the person you have named to make medical decisions in case you are incapable of making those decisions or expressing those decisions yourself. You may also choose to make specific choices known in your Health Care Proxy such as whether you want to be on life-sustaining machines if there is no chance of recovery. This directive placed in the document can make the tough decisions that your family may have to face a little easier by relieving them of the choice.
The Power of Attorney, on the other hand, gives the person that you name the authority to act on your behalf. This allows the person to take care of things, usual financials, for you if you become incapacitated.
All of these documents have important roles in your basic estate plan, as well as some formalities that may need to be followed in order to properly create them. Therefore it can be extremely beneficial to work with an attorney in your area who is skilled in creating these documents.
As explained above, these extremely useful documents can give you and your family piece of mind in knowing that, if a horrible event occurs, you and your possessions are taken care of how you would like them to be. It is not just about who gets the money in your bank account, but also how you would like your remains handled (burial? cremation? turned into a tree?).
The Top 9 Reasons To Make Your Will NOW
- You decide how your possessions will be distributed
- You decide who will take care of your minor children and/or pets
- Your family will be able to probate your estate faster
- You can minimize your estate tax
- You can decide who finalizes your affairs
- You can make gifts and donations
- You can avoid greater legal challenges
- You can always change it
- Tomorrow is never certain
There are more than 9 reasons to have a will, but it can be overwhelming to actually draft a will. While knowing your state’s laws is key, you don’t have to be an expert to write your will. You can contact an estate planning attorney near you who can help you craft these vital legal documents.