Estate planning encompasses more than the transfer of assets
Writing a will or thinking about what happens during a serious medical crisis are easy things for people in Washington to put off. People typically find these uncomfortable topics difficult to raise with their loved ones, but failing to put wishes into writing could inflict turmoil and financial burdens on close relatives when someone dies intestate or suffers an event that leads to incapacity. Although expressing final wishes about the distribution of an estate remains important, everyone regardless of age or wealth could benefit from preparing a durable power of attorney.
A power of attorney document allows a person to grant a trusted individual the legal ability to manage property, money or health care under certain circumstances. Such a document could enable the trustee to make sure that someone’s bills get paid on time during a medical crisis or access investments to pay for critical medical care.
An estate plan could also address a person’s decisions about certain types of medical care. Without a formal declaration, no one would have the immediate legal authority to communicate the medical directives of someone who has fallen into a coma. Parents should also consider creating a document that states who should take care of children if the parents die.
The advice of an attorney might help a person evaluate areas of need in regards to medical planning, child care or wealth transfer. Information about living trusts or tax planning provided by an attorney may prepare the client to make choices that reduce burdensome probate costs and delays that heirs might otherwise face. After guiding a client through estate planning choices about trustees, beneficiaries or possible medical care, an attorney might then draft pertinent documents.