Summary: As we put plans in place to maintain our quality of life as we age, we should also be making plans to protect our loved ones and our assets. Siedentopf Law discusses some estate planning tools that are particularly effective for longer lifespans.
Recent advances in healthcare are enabling Americans to live longer and healthier lives. As we put plans in place to maintain our quality of life as we age, we should also be making plans to protect our resources and our loved ones. Careful estate planning can ensure that your assets are distributed exactly how you wish. It can also relieve family members from the stressful burden of making financial and medical decisions on your behalf.
Concerning basic estate planning, Siedentopf Law recommends that every adult have a will, a power of attorney, and an advance directive for health care in place. A will provides instructions for the distribution of a person’s assets upon his or her death; it can also be used to designate a guardian for any minor children. A durable power of attorney enables a person to act on your behalf in the event of your disability, such as managing financial affairs, real estate transactions, or other legal decisions. An advance directive for health care memorializes a person’s health care preferences (ex: treatment, medical testing, care options) and is used if the person is unable to communicate his or her own wishes due to sickness or incapacity. For more on these three key estate planning documents, click here.
Another tool that can be particularly effective for extended lifespans is a trust. There are many different types of trusts designed to accomplish specific estate planning objectives, but in general, a trust allows a person to have a trustee manage their assets if he or she is otherwise unable to do so. Whether that trustee is an adult child, a friend, or even a bank, the trust/trustee setup enables aging adults to have continued management of their assets, even if they are unable to manage those assets themselves.
As a person ages, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies often become a large portion of his or her net worth. Accordingly, these documents and the beneficiary designations need to be periodically updated to ensure they reflect current wishes and family status. These documents should be updated after major life events such as marriage, births, divorce, or death of loved ones. It is also a good idea to create a list for your family and/or estate executor which details your different policies and accounts, and how to access them.
Depending on your individual circumstances, your estate plan could be simple or more complex. But the important part, especially for those with a long future ahead of them, is to get started as soon as possible and to take advantage of the resources available. If you have questions about estate planning or if you would like to set up a consultation with Atlanta, Georgia estate planning and probate law firm Siedentopf Law, call (404) 736-6066 or schedule an appointment with us online.
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