New day, new things to discover (and unlearn!) about estate planning!
Welcome back to the Estate Planning Myths Series, where I aim to disprove some of the most common misconceptions about estate planning. The first one is on handling your own estate planning, which you can read here if you haven’t yet!
Ready for the next? Here is yet another very popular but also very false impression on estate planning –
“Estate planning is only for after I’m gone.”
Definitely not! In fact, if you were able to catch the previous post, I had already mentioned that there is more to estate planning than just drafting a last will and testament. True, the benefits of an estate plan are especially felt when the property owner has already passed on (whom we know is called a decedent at this point), but the entire concept of estate planning can do so much more than designating beneficiaries and distributing properties.
Curious as to what more estate planning has to offer? Here are its additional benefits–perks you and your loved ones can enjoy even during life!
An estate plan speaks for you in the event that you become unable to. Remember our discussion in Incapacity Planning? Well, that is essentially what I am driving at here–a comprehensive estate plan contains tools (such as documents relating to power of attorney (POA) and trust) that allow important decisions to be made by you or on your behalf, no matter if you’re healthy or incapacitated. This important feature of estate planning protects you and your interests, but it also serves to protect your loved ones, too. It removes the risk of second-guessing and mishandling the given situation because, again, the estate plan speaks for you and speaks your wishes for you.
An estate plan manages your finances and assets in the event of any incapacity. In relation to my first point, when you plan for the possibilities of incapacity, you are assured that your money and properties are safe and will not be mismanaged despite the circumstances. Let’s face it–these dangers are real (nope, they don’t just happen in movies!). Estate planning gets rid of these unwanted eventualities, specifically through an appropriate POA (durability, remember?) that endures even after the principal becomes incapacitated. Through the POA, it is as if you, the principal/property owner, are acting and making asset management decisions yourself!
An estate plan lays out your personal preferences with respect to medical care. Ah, another amazing estate planning tool! When you draft your comprehensive estate plan, one of the instruments you can include is a medical POA. Basically, this important document would contain who you want to decide for you in the unfortunate event of incapacity, as well as the powers and responsibilities of this entrusted person. This could be your mom, your sister, your best friend . . . whoever you choose. An estate plan would also usually include a living will. This is yet another medical-related document that activates itself in matters involving end-of-life care. You can read more about it here!
Ultimately, an estate plan offers peace of mind. Having said all these, it is much clearer now that first, estate planning is NOT only for after a person is gone, and that more importantly, it leaves you and your loved ones at peace, knowing that there are schemes in place for any unfortunate incident that may arise. Without a doubt, estate planning is responsible preparation (again, for any and all events and not just for when you’re gone!), and responsible preparation brings security and peace of mind.
And that’s another estate planning myth busted! I hope that leaves you a clearer picture of what estate planning is all about (and what it’s not), but you know me–I’m up for more discussions on the topic!
Watch out for the next part of our Myth Series! Bye-bye for now, and see you on the next one!
P.S. Want more estate planning awesomeness? Join us for our next Women & Estate Planning Live Webinar. It's fun, free, and informative!