Some Important Lessons Regarding Estate Planning

It is almost universal that people fear death. This is only natural because what awaits people on the other side is one of life’s greatest mysteries; however, it is important for people to understand that planning for death is an essential part of life. Too often, people wait to plan for their death until they are incapable of making those important decisions regarding what to do with their belongings after death.

While many people take the time to plan out who will make their medical decisions if they become incapacitated, it is just as important for people to take the time to plan out how their estate will be handled after their death as well. Failure to take the time to plan out an estate can lead to massive financial costs and substantial loss of resources through the estate tax, commonly known as the “death tax.” If people wind up in probate court over an unclear will or no will at all, this can wind up costing the beneficiaries a substantial amount of money. With this in mind, people need to understand a few important lessons about estate planning.

Clarity in the will

The first lesson is to make sure that every wish is specified up front. While many people might not like to think about the end, it is a common mistake that people wait until disaster strikes before specifying their wishes. Just imagine if a loved one winds up in the hospital, incapacitated, and unable to specify their wishes. This could lead to family members arguing about what they might believe the wishes of this person to be. It can tear families apart and end up costing people a substantial amount of money. The family is forced to make decisions based on prior interactions instead of a specified directive. Because everyone has had a different set of interactions with their loved one, the debate often ensues. The directive is important and should specify who will make decisions on issues that aren’t clearly specified in the directive.

Power of attorney

In fact, this is another important lesson. Make sure to choose who should make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Take the time to carefully consider who should be trusted with these decisions because this is the person who could be making important medical decisions in the future. These people are essential given a power of attorney. This means that not only will they make medical decisions, but they will also handle financial matters, take care of bank transactions, and even represent you in a court of law. It is therefore vital to not only trust this person but also to believe in their ability to handle complicated and sophisticated logistical matters.

This isn’t necessarily the person who you’re closest too, but it is the person most capable of handling these matters. Because of the implications of these decisions, make sure to talk about the situation with this person before signing them up as a power of attorney. They should fully understand the role and be okay with it as well. It is okay to split the responsibilities, such as finances and healthcare, among multiple people as well.

That fact is a perfect segue into the final point, which is to ensure that the person entrusted with making medical decisions isn’t easily heartbroken. There are few people who would be comfortable with languishing in a hospital bed fighting against all hope to survive with a low, painful, quality of life. Most people would be comfortable with painlessly passing on if they had lived a full life and there wasn’t any hope for recovery.

In these situations, the patient is rarely competent of making their own medical decisions. As such, it often falls on the healthcare power of attorney to make the call over when to pull the plug. Too often, the person with this power is usually a child who is reluctant to pull the plug because they feel like they are killing their loved one. While this is understandable, it is not only kind but also sometimes necessary to make this decision if these are the wishes of the patient. Therefore, everyone should make sure that their healthcare power of attorney is someone who can make this tough decision when the time is right.

For help with complicated estate planning issues, be sure to contact an experienced estate planning attorney for help in coordinating these complicated matters.