Putting together an estate plan is likely on your “to do” list. For those who already have a plan, they may have an annual reminder to review the plan and make changes as needed. Whether you are one of the millions in the former situation or part of the more prepared later group, it is important to make sure your estate plan truly encompasses your wishes.
One of the top myths when it comes to estate planning is the belief that a will is enough. A will is a legal tool that, when done correctly, can provide guidance as to the distribution of one’s assets and potentially discuss guardianship. But that is it.
Additional documents to consider within one’s estate plan include:
- Health care proxy. This document allows the creator to provide another person the ability to make health care choices on their behalf. This can better ensure one’s wishes regarding health care are followed even when they are unable to communicate these wishes. This can be triggered if the creator is involved in a tragic car or other accident that results in a prolonged loss of consciousness as well as those who are fighting serious diseases like dementia.
- Trusts. A trust is a legal document that allows the creator to have more control over how the assets are distributed. It can allow for additional investments and pay out an inheritance in smaller portions. This can reduce the risk an heir will make poor choices with the windfall.
- Digital assets. We live in a world where we all have our own digital identities. In addition to social media and email accounts, we need to provide the information needed for heirs to access online banking accounts, investments, digital currencies and the like.
These are just a few of the legal tools to consider when putting together an estate plan that meets your needs. An attorney experienced in this niche area of the law can discuss your wishes and review your options.