You have probably been told before that a day signified a certain nationwide event like National Donut Day or National Hot Dog Day. Often these days are used to celebrate and bring awareness to certain areas in life. The same goes for estate planning. October 20-26 marks this year’s National Estate Planning Awareness Week. While National Estate Planning Awareness Week does not sound like as much fun as National Donut Day, it does seem to hold much more importance. With upwards of 120 million Americans who are lacking an up-to-date estate plan to protect themselves or their families in the event of untimely sickness, accidents, or even death, obviously this week emphasizes the value of having an updated estate plan in place.
So why is having an estate plan so important? An estate plan can ensure that your loved ones are provided for if you were to pass away or that a loved one is able to make a decision on your behalf if you were unable to do so. In a general sense, an estate plan is typically comprised of legal documents that designate your specific decisions to a number of choices thereby eliminating any potential uncertainty.
One of the most basic estate planning documents is a last will and testament. This document primarily directs where you would want your assets to pass in the event of your death. Without a will, state statutes will determine where your assets would pass upon your death. A will can also direct who should be appointed as a guardian for any minor children. A will can also direct who you want to act as the executor of your estate. It is important for adults of any age to have a last will and testament in place.
Another important estate planning document includes a power of attorney. This document can allocate authority to another individual to act on your behalf in regard to finances, health care, or other areas. A power of attorney can be customized to apply in only certain circumstances or more broadly. This estate planning document can be a great tool to utilize in the event that an individual is incapacitated and unable to make decisions.
Many estate plans also include an advance directive. This legal document outlines what type of medical care that you would want in the event that you were incapacitated or at the end stages of your life. A living will designates whether you would want life prolonging treatment for end of life care. Having this document in place can ensure that your decisions are known and not a potential burden on a loved one struggling with such a hard choice.
Whether you are looking to draft your estate plan or merely looking to update it, contact our Tennessee estate planning attorneys at The Higgins Firm. Our Nashville based estate planning lawyers would be happy to talk you through the steps and answer any potential questions that you may have as it relates to you and your loved ones.