If you are nearing retirement age or are already in retirement, you likely have begun to think about how you plan to manage your affairs as you near the later years of your life. Having a will is usually the first thing that people think of when they begin to plan for the distribution of their assets after death. However, having a will is not the only step you need to take.
Estate planning is a general term used for all the various legal documents and directives governing the distribution of your assets and property following your death. A comprehensive estate plan takes many factors into account besides a will, and everyone can benefit from advance planning.
The importance of a power of attorney
A will is a good basic starting point, but there is much more for you to consider when it comes to later life and end-of-life management of your assets and property. One important consideration is that of having a power of attorney, either financial, health or both. Powers of attorney are an essential part of a good estate plan.
The person you choose as your power of attorney will have the ability to make decisions for you when you are no longer able to do so yourself. This is a document that by its very definition needs drafting in advance of any unexpected changes in your health or physical situation that would prevent you from being able to express your desires. A qualified estate planning attorney can help you decide which type of power of attorney is best for your situation.
Other estate planning considerations
Tax planning and charitable giving are two strategic ways that you can plan for distributing your wealth as you near the end of your life. By examining your tax liabilities in advance and choosing appropriate recipients for charitable giving, you can maximize the efficiency of your assets while minimizing the financial burden on the loved ones you leave behind. Another factor to consider is the use of trusts. These are just a few of the many options at your disposal as you plan for your financial future and that of your loved ones.
The bottom line when it comes to estate planning is that it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. A will is an important document, but it is not the only thing you need when you look at your advance planning. Consult with an estate planning attorney to get the right legal advice about how to proceed in creating an estate plan that will serve your needs now and for the years to come.