Estate planning is important for all responsible adults, but unfortunately, most younger people are going through life without the proper estate planning documents. Clearly, senior citizens are going to pass away with more frequency than younger adults, but you never know what the future holds.
Even if you are single, you should have an estate plan in place as soon as you are a self-supporting adult, but estate planning is an absolute must for couples with children. Most families rely on two incomes these days, so you should make sure that you have an income replacement vehicle in place so that your surviving spouse could carry on if the unthinkable was to take place.
There is also the matter of guardianship. When you create a last will, you could nominate a guardian for your children. If a guardianship was ever necessary, it is likely that the court would honor your nomination.
When you think about guardianship, children may immediately come to mind. However, there is also adult guardianship. If you were to become unable to make sound decisions on your own as a senior citizen, the court could be petitioned to appoint a guardian to act on your behalf.
There can be some drawbacks that go along with a guardianship. For one, people in the family may not all be on the same page, and there can be disagreements. Secondly, the guardian that is ultimately chosen by the court may not be the person that you would have chosen.
This is why incapacity planning is important. You can be proactive about the implementation of an incapacity plan when you are devising your estate plan.
This will typically involve the execution of legally binding documents called durable powers of attorney. The durable designation is important here; a durable power of attorney will remain in effect, even if the grantor of the power becomes incapacitated.
There are different types of decisions that could present themselves. For health care decision-making, you could execute a durable power of attorney for health care or health care proxy. A durable financial power of attorney could be included as well, and you could name two different people to act as agents for these two different respective purposes.
Another option exists with regard to the financial end of things. If you use a revocable living trust as your asset transfer vehicle instead of a last will, you could empower a disability trustee to administer the trust in the event of your incapacitation.
Schedule a Free Consultation
If you would like to discuss your estate planning objectives with a licensed professional, our firm can help. We offer free consultations, and you can send us a message through our contact page to set up an appointment: Grand Forks ND Estate Planning Attorneys.