Not being able to take care of your family or yourself can be a scary thought.
Who will make all the important decisions about your finances, health, and important decisions about your family?
There are some estate planning documents that will allow you to name someone to take care of you and your family.
Let’s take a look at what they are.
Advance Health Care Directive
An advance health care directive allows you to name someone to make health decisions for you when you are incapacitated. This is often used to decide on whether or not to use feeding tubes, ventilators, or other life-sustaining treatments. It is also used if you are unable to speak for yourself or sign health documents even at a doctor’s appointment.
If you do not have an advance health care directive, doctors will do everything they can to keep you alive even if that is not what you want. Be sure to discuss with whomever you choose what you would want them to do.
Durable Power of Attorney for Finance
Similar in intent to an advance health care directive, the durable power of attorney for finance allows you to name someone to take care of your finances if you become incapacitated. This can be the same person or a different person than you named for your healthcare decisions.
If you do not name someone, then a court will appoint someone to manage your finances. Your spouse may not have access to your finances unless everything has/had already been set into a joint property.
You want to make sure that whoever you name is someone you trust. They will handle all of your finances!
If you do not have someone you trust, you can contact a professional to help you setup fiduciary support.
A guardianship plan will lay out what is to happen to your children should you be incapacitated. More than likely if you have a spouse, your spouse will take over the full care of your children. However, if you or your spouse is not in town, not readily available, estranged, or any number of other scenarios where you (or they) cannot immediately take custody of your children, things can go sideways, fast!
Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about Guardianship Plans:
You want to choose someone you trust to follow your wishes. They also should be able to financially and emotionally support your children and perhaps even have the same faith or values as you do.
Setting up a trust for your children will make sure that they will have the financial support they will need. It can also ensure that your children will not receive their whole inheritance when they turn 18. Naming someone other than the guardian to be the trustee of the trust can help make sure your children are using their inheritance wisely. Regardless, you want to make sure that the guardian and the trustee can get along and make decisions together.
There are many factors involved when trying to lay-out how a trust will coordinate with a guardian, powers of attorney, advance directives, wills, and more. Your best bet is to set up a consultation with a great estate planning attorney.