Good estate planning is about much more than just who inherits your money, coin collection or stocks. I would argue that the distribution of your property at death is one of the least important aspects of your planning. It should be very thorough.
One of the most compelling and overlooked reasons to do estate planning is incapacity protection. Whether we age gracefully or not, at some point many of us will experience a time when we need assistance managing our lives and our affairs, whether it be temporarily or longer term.
Being able to choose who will be making financial and other decisions with us, or for us, in such circumstances, and knowing that those persons have the necessary tools to do so, provides protections and a sense of relief. It also allows the people you have chosen to act on your behalf to do so easily, without facing the hurdles and difficulties that can otherwise arise.
Appointing one’s health-care decision maker is very important. The HIPAA laws (medical information privacy act) mandate that medical information not be shared with anyone unless authorized in writing or under limited emergency situations. Making sure in advance that you know who will assist with your medical decisions, that he or she is familiar with your wishes and that he or she could freely access your records is something that planning in advance can accomplish.
An estate plan also should:
• Name a guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children.
• Include life insurance planning, such as life insurance to provide for your family at your death; disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury; and long-term care insurance to help pay for your care in case of an extended illness or injury.
• Provide for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death.
• And minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees.