Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?

By: Nick Leydorf
estate planning and elder law attorney
Meet Nick Leydorf
My practice is dedicated to helping families get their affairs in order so that they can stay out of court and out of conflict. I’ve experienced first-hand how a lack of planning can have a terrible impact on a family. One morning, my wife received a phone call that her mother had been found unconscious in her bathroom and had been rushed to a local hospital. We panicked and drove to Grand Rapids as fast as we could to be with her. For two weeks, she never regained consciousness and she passed away. My wife and I were devastated.
Please don't let procrastination or your fear of death stop you from making an estate plan. That is both selfish and unkind.

Yahoo News’ recent article entitled “Don't fail to be ready for the day you're dead” says that you need four key legal documents to take care of those who care for you.

An experienced estate planning attorney will make sure it's all done correctly.

  1. A will. This is the most obvious document folks think of when doing estate planning, and it’s the cornerstone. It informs the world how you want your possessions distributed when you die. Just worry about the big stuff and don’t itemize everything you own or even list specific items in your will.

You want a will that will last through the years without needing constant revision. Carefully name an executor who carries out the instructions in your will.

  1. Power of attorney for health care. This document grants someone the authority to act on your behalf. Power of attorney for health care grants someone the authority to make all your health care decisions in the event you are unable. If you are injured, ill, or mentally incapacitated, your "agent" has the significant responsibility to make medical decisions for you.
  2. Power of attorney for finances. If you become incapacitated for an extended duration, a person also needs to pay all your bills and make financial decisions. The friend or family member you name will have the legal right to access all your bank accounts and investments.
  3. Living will or advance directive. The document states your wishes for medical treatment — or the withdrawal of medical treatment in the event you are terminally ill and will die without life support. This document avoids forcing this choice on someone else. You can make it yourself.

And remember that these estate planning documents are useless if you hide them. Make certain your family knows their location.

Reference: Yahoo News (Oct. 5, 2021) “Don't fail to be ready for the day you're dead”

Suggested Key Terms: Estate Planning Lawyer, Wills, Intestacy, Probate Court, Inheritance, Asset Protection, Executor, Personal Representative, Power of Attorney, Healthcare Directive, Living Will, Probate Attorney

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