Everyone should have an estate plan
Anne Heche's tragic and unforeseen death is an important reminder of why everyone should have an estate plan in place. Without one, your wishes may not be carried out after you pass away, and can lead to huge amounts of delays, costs, and potentially - heartache for your loved ones.
An estate plan will ensure that your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes and that any funds or properties are managed according to your instructions.
Additionally, it will allow you to appoint guardians for minor children if needed, as well as giving you the opportunity to specify how you want to be cared for if you become incapacitated or ill. Having a solid estate plan in place is a crucial step to protect yourself and those around you.
The components of a solid estate plan
A bulletproof estate plan should include the following elements:
1. A Will: This is a legally binding document that outlines how you want your assets to be distributed after you pass away. It should name an executor who will be responsible for making sure those wishes are respected.
2. Powers of Attorney: These documents provide someone else with legal authority to act on your behalf in the event of incapacitation or illness. They can cover financial decisions and health care choices, depending on the type of document created.
3. Trusts: A trust is a legal entity that can hold assets and dictate how they should be managed and used while you’re alive as well as after you pass away. Trusts are useful because they allow you to make more detailed instructions about property management and ownership than a will allows.
4. Healthcare Directives: Also known as living wills, healthcare directives allow you to give instructions about your medical treatment preferences if you are unable to make decisions yourself due to incapacitation or illness.
5. Account Ownership: Carefully consider how accounts like bank accounts and investments are owned, in order to ensure that any funds held in these accounts can be accessed easily when needed by your designated agent or beneficiary after death or incapacity strikes.