If you have not yet made an estate plan, you should make it a priority. You cannot know when you will fall ill or die, and estate plans put provisions in place for both these events.
Understanding where to start puts many people off. Consider these three documents as the basics:
1. A will
What do you want to happen to your possessions when you die? If you do not set out details, a court will determine who gets what using state guidelines. While there are several ways to pass on your property, a will is the most straightforward place to start, and it may be all you need.
2. An advanced health care directive
A health care directive allows you to make decisions about how you would like to be treated or not be treated if you fall ill and cannot speak for yourself. For example, if you are happy to receive blood transfusions, be kept alive on life support and, if things don’t work out, whether you wish to donate all or some of your body parts.
3. Powers of attorney
You can nominate someone to make health care decisions for you. You can give the same person or someone different power to make financial transactions on your behalf. These powers won’t come into play until a triggering event occurs.
If even that seems too complicated, remember that you do not have to do this alone. Getting legal help to make your first estate plan makes it far more likely you will create one that serves your needs and those of your family well.