Family Planning is Estate Planning and refers to the management of your affairs while you are still living and after you die.
Not everyone needs a trust, but everyone should have an estate plan that includes a will, a durable power of attorney for health care and appointment of your patient advocate, and a durable power of attorney for financial concerns. Estate plans are useful while you are living as well as after.
A Will is a written expression of your wishes about how to distribute your property after you die. If you die without a will, your property will be distributed according to the law, regardless of what you may have intended or what your family thinks is fair. Failure to prepare a will can also lead to family disharmony and hurt feelings. A will is especially important if you have minor children as it allows you to identify the persons who shall act as guardians in the event of your death.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to name someone who can help you make decisions about your medical care and treatment, or, who will be authorized to make such decisions when you are not able. The document also reflects the choices you would prefer regarding end of life treatment options.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Concerns allows you to name someone who can assist you with your financial affairs. Careful drafting ensures you continue to have power over your affairs so long as you are able. Signing a durable power of attorney now does not mean you give up any right to make decisions, but identifies someone who can assist you and under what circumstances. If you have an account in your name only and you become incapacitated, no one can manage that account without court involvement.
A Trust can be useful to organize and manage your assets in such a way as to ease the tax burden not only on you, but on your spouse and any other beneficiaries. Distribution of funds from a trust may be in a lump sum, or over a period of time. Trusts allow your estate to be settled upon your death without court involvement known as “probate”. A properly created trust can allow some portions of the estate to pass directly to chosen individuals (beneficiaries) without probate. It also helps to manage funds for children who are beneficiaries. There are many different types of trusts.