On this site you will find information about making an estate plan, planning a funeral and making other final arrangements, probate, and administering a trust in the United States. Pennyborn.com also features information you may need to navigate issues that are likely to arise during the aging process such as income and financial planning, assisted living, nursing home care, Medicaid planning, life insurance, gifting, and estate taxes. By reviewing the free estate planning guides and tips on our site, you may find it easier to understand the terms used in your estate planning documents and determine whether you need to incorporate various estate planning strategies into your own plan.
For some people it is difficult to contemplate the issues involved in end of life planning. Feelings and emotions may become a barrier to making the necessary decisions to finalize estate planning documents such as
wills and trusts. A good way to ease into the process of making an estate plan is to deal with issues that will impact you while you are alive. These include planning for long term care and any incapacity that may occur as you age. One of the best ways to start this part of the process is to review your overall financial plan. This may include examining your income in retirement and how you will pay for expenses such as nursing home and in-home health care. As part of the financial planning process, you may want to meet with a financial advisor and ask them how to align your estate planning objectives with your financial plan. This may involve taking steps such as naming beneficiaries on your retirement accounts, adding pay on death beneficiaries to your bank accounts, reviewing your life insurance coverage, and considering how your surviving spouse or partner may be impacted financially if something happens to you.Another estate planning step in preparing for events that may happen while you are alive is making a financial power of attorney. If at any time you are unable to handle your own finances, such as due to illness, hospitalization or disability, you may need someone to make financial decisions and take certain actions on your behalf. Choosing a person you trust to fulfill this role may be one of the most difficult choices that must be made to make a complete estate plan.
Review our section on granting Power of Attorney for key issues to consider.In addition to making sure your financial affairs will be properly managed in the event of a sudden illness, injury or incapacity, you may want to execute documents to ensure your preferences regarding health care and end of life medical care are honored. This aspect of your estate plan falls within the category of
advance directives and may include documents such as a living will and health care power of attorney. Related documents such as a DNR order may be part of your medical directives in some circumstances. As more states pass laws allowing medical aid in dying, you may want to consult an attorney about how to properly document your wishes regarding end of life care.For some people, putting together an estate plan is a way to exercise more control over their legacy and the final stage in their lives. To get an idea of how this can be achieved with your estate plan, review our list of
things you can control about what happens when you die. This may help you target the issues you want to address first and make it easier for you to prioritize the steps in your estate planning process.
Your Last Wishes and Final Arrangements
One of the most unpleasant tasks in setting up an estate plan is the part where you need to provide directions for your final arrangements. However, there are at least three reasons why you should take the time to leave instructions about your memorial preferences: 1. It will probably make things easier for your family, friends, and other survivors after your passing. By putting your last wishes in writing, it may eliminate anxiety they have about trying to decide what you would have wanted.2. It allows you to exercise more control over your funeral, burial or cremation and allows you to state your preferences on your final resting place. You may have a strong opinion about what you want to happen after you die, but unless you express this in your estate planning documents, your preferences may not be known.3. Planning your final arrangements ahead of time or leaving written instructions on your memorial preferences may allow you to have more control over the funeral and burial costs incurred by your estate or your heirs. For an overview of some typical costs associated with final arrangements, read can I afford a funeral.For some people, it is enough to leave a few simple instructions while others actually pay for all their arrangements in advance. For an overview of steps in the process, see
How to Plan Your Funeral.
Estate Planning to Provide for Dependents
If you have people that depend on you for financial support, it is especially important to make an estate plan. Whether you have a spouse, partner, child, parent or sibling that relies on you, there are several steps you may want to take to ensure they will be okay if something happens to you.A life insurance policy may be used to provide funds to care for your dependents. If you have not purchased life insurance, you may want to talk with your financial advisor about the type and amount of life insurance to buy.If you have minor children, a common estate planning issue is making arrangements for a child guardian. An estate planning lawyer can help you create the documents necessary to arrange for
guardianship of your children. If any of your children have special needs, you may also want to consult a lawyer about making a special needs trust and Medicaid planning.Providing for your spouse, partner or other dependents is also a consideration when planning your estate. Part of this process includes an evaluation of the resources your dependents will have to live on and what can be put in place to ensure their needs will be met.Any pets or animals you have should be considered when setting up your estate plan. This may include arranging for a pet guardian, establishing a pet trust or using other methods to arrange for shelter, food, and veterinary care for your pets and animals in your absence.Copyright 2019 Pennyborn.com. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Published September 26, 2019. Updated October 21, 2019.
INFORMATION ON THIS SITE, INCLUDING ARTICLES, ESTATE PLANNING FORMS, AND THE ESTATE PLANNING BLOG, IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Pennyborn.com is not a law firm and is not a substitute for a lawyer. Your use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.