Why you should have an estate plan

Estate planning is more than designating who will receive your remaining assets. It is a disaster preparedness plan that allows your chosen family members and trusted individuals to assist you during your incapacity and for your family to have a clear map of your intentions during times when you are unable to manage your own affairs and after you have passed.

Your complete estate plans allow you to designate individuals to make healthcare decisions for your care, to exercise a charitable intent, to provide for your loved ones (even your pets), and to provide a road map for the administration of the things you have worked so hard to build. It is one of the best gifts you can give your family.

If you already have an existing estate plan, it is just as important to regularly review your plan. As you take an annual inventory of your health, your finances, and your family situations, take the opportunity to make sure that your estate plan is also current.

The following changes in your life are good reasons to review your plan:

  • A change in marital status.
  • The birth of a child.
  • A change in your state of residence.
  • A significant change in the value or character of your assets.
  • A change in intended beneficiaries.
  • The death of a beneficiary or change in their status with respect to a disability
  • The death of a guardian, trustee, or personal representative named in your will.

An outdated or inadequate plan can be worse than no plan at all. Although the circumstances that are making estate planning top of mind are sad, having your affairs in order is important whether there is a pandemic or not, according to St. Louis law firm TuckerAllen.

“We can complete an estate plan in as little as two sessions – the initial consultation and the signing conference, explained an estate planning attorney at TuckerAllen,

According to TuckerAllen, a proper estate plan will provide for a person’s sickness and incapacity, as well as death.

  • A healthcare power of attorney nominates someone to make healthcare decisions when you are sick. This includes hiring and firing doctors, moving hospitals and authorizing or withdrawing medical procedures.
  • A general power of attorney nominates someone to make personal and financial decisions when you are incapacitated. This includes paying your bills when you are in the hospital, moving you into or out of a nursing home and opening your mail.
  • A health care directive (also called a “living will”) tells your family and medical professionals whether you want to “pull the plug” or continue to receive life-prolonging treatment if you enter a vegetative state and are unlikely to ever recover.
  • A HIPAA waiver tells healthcare facilities who they may share your protected healthcare information with. For example, a family member may want to call in and get an update on your health since in-person visits are forbidden. These are especially important if a patient has a significant other, a blended family or family strife.

By setting up an estate plan, people get to choose where their money should go upon their passing instead of letting the state government decide according to its intestacy (inheritance) laws.

A little bit of money now to set up an estate plan will save clients’ families thousands of dollars in the future by avoiding probate. Probate is the process where the county circuit court oversees the distribution of a deceased person’s assets.

For more information, contact the TuckerAllen estate and elder law firm at 314-335-1100.


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