While dreaming about the possibilities the future holds is an enjoyable pastime, there are not many people who enjoy thinking about the end of their lives. This may include considering such possibilities as a lengthy illness, the loss of your mental faculties and leaving your loved ones behind. Because it is difficult to dwell on such things, it is understandable that most people would put off their estate planning.
Nevertheless, for the good of your loved ones, there comes a time when you must rise above your own misgivings and think about creating a comprehensive estate plan that covers as many contingencies as possible, both for the last events in your life as well as what occurs after your passing.
Protecting yourself and your wishes
Your estate plan can include documents that will protect your own wishes should you become unable to express what you want for your medical care. With an advance directive, for example, you can outline the kinds of medical treatment you expect doctors to provide in certain circumstances. You can also indicate under what conditions you authorize doctors to withhold medical treatment or to stop lifesaving measures.
A companion to your advance directive is a health care power of attorney. The person you designate to be your agent is the one who speaks for you if you are unable to express your wishes to your medical team. Your advance directive may not cover every circumstance, and your power of attorney grants your agent the authority to make critical decisions when you cannot.
In addition to a medical power of attorney, you can designate a financial power of attorney to make any legal or financial decisions when your health or other circumstances prevent you from doing so. These three elements in your estate plan not only protect your rights but they may also relieve your loved ones of having to make difficult and confusing choices at a time of high emotion.
Protecting your assets for your loved ones
Of course, the most well-known elements of an estate plan are wills and trusts. Your will can prevent many disputes among your heirs if you outline the distribution of your assets, name a guardian for your minor children and designate someone to administrate your estate. With a trust, you can set aside certain assets to protect them from the financial ramifications of probate.
It is reasonable to feel apprehensive about making an estate plan, but obtaining more information about the process often relieves some of those uncertainties. With the help of a compassionate Texas attorney, you may learn how an estate plan can benefit your specific circumstances.