It’s the New Year and once again time for resolutions. While most resolutions tend to focus on self improvement, a more practical resolution might be a better idea. With less than 8 percent of Americans following through on resolutions for eating healthier, exercising more and spending less money, a resolution geared towards estate planning is an achievable goal you can easily accomplish. Having an estate plan in place ensures that your assets are protected if you lose your mental capacity and distributed how you wish after you depart.
The popular majority
If you don’t have a will or estate plan yet, you are like 60 percent of American adults. While planning for the end of your life may not make your top ten lists, it is one of those things that you know you should do. Whether you haven’t gotten around to it yet or you think do not have enough assets to make it worth the effort, it’s time to set the excuses aside.
What should be included?
At a bare minimum, an estate plan should include the following:
- A will: A will outlines how you want your assets divided after your passing. If you leave no instructions for surviving family members on how to divide your property they will have to make educated guesses to honor your wishes.
- Financial power of attorney: This document allows a person to act as your financial agent if you become mentally incapacitated and unable to attend to your finances.
- A health care directive: This document outlines your wishes for end of life care and designates a person to make decisions on your behalf. If you do not want to use life support devices or wish to donate your organs, this document would state those choices.
Being proactive about planning for the end of your life may seem dismal, but it ensures your wishes are made clear regarding your money, property and medical treatment. If you already have an estate plan, you could make reviewing the documents part of your resolution. Either way, resolve to make estate planning a part of 2018.