Estate planning is something many people don’t think about until an emergency arises. Whether you are involved in a serious accident, are diagnosed with a terminal medical condition, or have a close family member who suddenly becomes incapacitated, emergency estate planning is sometimes an unfortunate necessity. If you are facing an emergency situation and have yet to begin your estate planning efforts, here’s what you will need to consider.
Emergency Estate Planning Issue 1: Medical Choices
Some people first walk into an estate planning attorney’s office after they learn that they have been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition, such as cancer. Such people are often faced with questions they have never really considered before, and want to know what legal options they have.
In this situation, creating advance medical directives that protect your health care wishes is essential. These medical directives boil down to two main types: a living will and a durable power of attorney for healthcare. Through your living will you can state the types of medical treatments you do or do not wish to receive, while your health care power of attorney allows you to appoint a representative who will make choices for you if you are unable to communicate.
Emergency Estate Planning Issue 2: Financial Protection
In an emergency situation, you will also want to create estate planning tools that protect your financial interests. A financial power of attorney, like a health care power of attorney, allows you to name someone who will make decisions on your behalf. Your financial power of attorney appoints an agent who will have the legal authority to manage your property and financial affairs. Should your illness result in your inability to manage your affairs on your own, your financial agent will be able to step in and take over your responsibilities.
Emergency Estate Planning Issue 3: Inheritances
One of the more complicated issues to deal with in an emergency situation is how you want to pass your property after you are dead. Depending on your circumstances and how much you own, proper inheritance planning can involve a will, living trust, or more complicated tools. If you don’t have that much time, your inheritance planning options might be more limited, so you’ll need to talk to your attorney as soon as possible.
Emergency Estate Planning Issue 4: Guardians
If you are a parent of a young child, you will have to make a decision about who you want to care for your child if you are incapacitated or should you die. This is an essential step to take, but one that requires careful thought. Once you choose a guardian, you’ll have to write your choice down in your will and make sure the document meets North Dakota legal standards.
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