Sunday, May 12, 2013

How to Make Estate Planning Decisions

Estate planning includes making important decisions for your children, your assets and yourself.  Preparing for the future can save a significant amount of time, expense and worry for your heirs.  Use the following guidelines to help you make two of the most important decisions when planning for your death. 

Designating who takes care of your children may be the most important decision you make while estate planning.  Grandparents might seem like a natural choice to be guardians but you should carefully consider their age, financial ability and desire to raise children. 

Your parents may love to visit their grandchildren but do they really want to be full-time parents?  Will they have the time and energy to care for active, young children?  A better choice may be good friends who are about your age, already have children and share similar values.  It is good practice to include alternatives for guardian in your will in the event that someone is unwilling or unable to care for your children. 

Advance Health Care Directive
This document allows you to specify who will make your health care decisions if you are not able to make them yourself.  You may also list certain medical instructions in advance.  It may be tempting to ensure that you are given life-extending treatment such as intravenous fluids, feeing and oxygen for a long period of time to see if you will recover. 

However, you should carefully consider the expense and emotional strain on your loved ones in such a situation.  Life support can be costly and may quickly diminish the estate you want to leave your children and relatives.  No matter what you choose, you can avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary expense if you name a trusted person in your health care power of attorney.  This person should know your true wishes and be able to make objective decisions in a difficult situation. 

The most important decisions during estate planning should be thought out well in advance.  Sometimes the wisest choice to achieve your goals may be also be the simplest one.  In any event, you should contact an attorney to answer your questions and ensure that your decisions are properly recorded in your documents.