Your estate plan is a multifaceted tool that helps your loved ones distribute your assets when you are gone, but there is much more to this tool than that. You can also let your loved ones know what you want in your final days if you can't speak up for yourself.
When you are getting your estate plan together, you must be ready to do more than create a will. Here are some of the other things to think about when you are preparing for the process:
Your final days
You need to plan for your final days. The medical care you receive and the financial obligations you have come into the picture here. You need to set up your living will. This document lists the medical care the you are willing to receive and the care that you want to refuse. Think in terms of feeding tubes and intravenous hydration. You also need to consider whether you want to be resuscitated. If you don't want to be resuscitated, you need to fill out a do not resuscitate order.
On top of the living will, you need to set up two powers of attorney designations. One of these is for someone to make health care decisions for you. The other is for your finances. You might be tempted to place someone close to you in these positions, but make sure that the person you choose will be able and willing to stand up for what you would want.
It is a good idea to discuss your wishes with the people or person to whom you give powers of attorney. This gives them a chance to ask you questions if they don't fully understand what you want.
Your minor children
You should designate a person as the guardian of your minor children. If you have more than one child, each one can have a different guardian or they can all share the same guardian. Make sure you speak to the person you designate to ensure that he or she is up for the duties involved with raising your children. Setting up financial assistance can also help. Trusts are a good way to do this.
Distributing your assets can happen with a will, trusts or a combination of the two. You should consider the tax implications of each arrangement. You also need to think about the way that each will pass these assets out. Typically, trusts can avoid the probate process and are a more private option than a will.
In the end, the will has to reflect your wishes. Coming up with a plan has to be done with your goals in mind.