In Pennsylvania, many people put off estate planning. While people might not like thinking about death, estate planning can help to ensure that their wishes are protected when their property is distributed after they die. Estate plans should include more than just a last will and testament. There are several crucial documents that should be included in a good estate plan.
Who needs an estate plan?
Many people have the mistaken idea that estate planning is something to do when they get older. However, all adults ages 18 and older can benefit from estate planning. People can suffer unexpected injuries or illnesses at any age. For example, if a 19-year-old has a car accident, his or her parents will have trouble getting any information about how their child is doing because of HIPAA. With the right estate planning documents in place, this type of situation can be avoided.
Important documents for an estate plan
No matter how old adults might be, they can benefit by having the following documents in place:
Living will to address the types of life-prolonging treatments the person wants
Last will and testament to talk about how to distribute the assets
Medical power of attorney to grant someone else the authority to make medical decisions if the person is no longer able to make decisions for themself
Financial power of attorney to grant someone else the authority to handle the person’s finances if he or she is unable to make the decisions because of incapacity
Writing a letter of instructions is also a good idea. This is not a formal document, but it should include information about passwords, account numbers, a list of benefits and contact information for the person’s lawyer and other advisers. Adults might want to talk to estate planning attorneys for advice about the types of estate planning documents they would need for their particular circumstances.