For many, having an estate plan means writing a will to distribute one's assets after death. This is certainly an important part of planning your estate. You want to make sure your loved ones obtain their fair share of what you leave behind and that you articulate any special bequests you have in mind.
However, this is only the beginning of the ways in which an estate plan can benefit you and your family. You may not even realize how many tools exist for protecting yourself, your family and your assets.
Taking care of your family
A will can be a solid beginning for an estate plan. However, do you realize that your will can do more than simply distribute your wealth? Your will can also name your executor, who is the trusted person you choose to administrate the closing of your estate after your death. Your will can also name a guardian for any minor children or dependents you may have.
A more sophisticated tool for asset protection and distribution is the revocable trust. A trust holds the ownership of any assets you fund to it. Those assets usually do not go through probate, and your heirs may avoid certain tax ramifications related to those assets. You can also use trusts for charitable giving. These are only a few ways trusts can benefit your plan. Your attorney can explain the many varieties of trusts available and help you determine which are most suitable for your needs.
What about your wishes?
Few people understand the importance of protecting themselves through their estate plans. You can ensure that any health care, legal and financial decisions someone makes on your behalf match your personal goals and wishes. You can do this with a number of estate planning documents, including these:
- A durable power of attorney has the authority to handle your legal and financial matters if you become incapacitated.
- A health care proxy speaks on your behalf when questions arise about your medical care.
- A HIPAA release in your estate plan allows you to name a trusted individual to receive and release your otherwise confidential medical information.
- A living will, or advance directive, provides your proxy and your doctors with an outline of your wishes for medical care if you become incapacitated.
These and other factors are excellent reasons to consider estate planning beyond a simple will. Your Washington attorney can provide you with more information and answer any questions you may have.