Estate Planning: Ensuring your Legacy

Deciding how you want to be remembered after you’re gone can be one of the most important  decisions you make. Do you want your legacy to be judged by your entire life or by a bitter legal battle  over your assets? People often avoid the issue of death, but in the case of estate planning, it’s really  about focusing on life. You’re no doubt proud of your accomplishments in life, no matter what they may be. Your children, your career or your impact on others lives – these are the types of things that should be remembered.

Estate planning remains one of the ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones after you’re gone. With the proper techniques and planning, you can help ensure that you’re remembered for the impact you had on your
community and your world. In the event of an accident or other medical emergencies, you should be prepared.

In addition to a medical power of attorney and a living will, which spell out what medical treatments you wish to have in the event of an emergency and who will speak for you, you should prepare a will and a financial power of attorney. These financial documents will save your family from much of the heartache and hurt feelings that goes with dividing up estates and making financial decisions.

While most Americans are familiar with wills, many still do not have them. Wills can be as complex or as simple as you wish and can directly spell out who you want to receive your assets after your death. As part of creating your will, you will choose an executor, the person who will ensure the stipulations of your will are carried out. Your executor should be financially savvy and have the energy and ability to carry out your wishes.  A family member isn’t always the best choice, and you may want to consult with your financial professional on appropriate alternatives.

A financial power of attorney grants the responsibility for the financial decisions regarding your estate. You choose who you designate as your representative Your financial power of attorney can also be your medical power of attorney, but it doesn’t have to be. In many cases, your spouse is both, however, it’s important to name a back-up, in case your spouse is also injured or passes away.

Wills and a financial power of attorney, along with a living-will and a medical power of attorney, make  up the four basic documents and preparations of estate planning. They are, however, only a few of the  many options you have when it comes to deciding what your legacy will be. Trusts, insurance and  other options exist, as well as several other tax strategies that can be utilized in your estate. Your  financial professional can help in planning the entire process.