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Estate Planning

Estate planning is a key part of your financial plan, protecting and providing for those you love.

Think of your estate plan as an organized roadmap that covers all the legal and financial considerations and states your wishes. It is designed to help your loved ones or your next of kin navigate the difficult time after your death without extra confusion, conflict, or cost.

The Need for Estate Planning

Sharon Grassi, a caregiver for her son, describes the importance of estate planning.  She shares her family’s story and highlights the peace of mind that comes with knowing that her loved ones will be cared for and supported when she can no longer do so.

Why You Need an Estate Plan

Everyone needs an estate plan, but this is especially true for caregivers. An estate plan helps ensure a smooth transition of care responsibilities, assets, healthcare decisions, and protection for the person you care for. It also helps to outline the legacy you wish to leave behind.

Estate Planning
Tip from Susan, Spouse Caregiver

Estate planning is one of those unpleasant tasks that no one wants to do. It is a reminder of our own mortality and many people don’t want to face that. However, it is critically important. An estate plan is not a one and done document. Life changes, families change, circumstances change, and your estate plan should be updated to reflect your current needs and wishes. So, if you love your family and want them to be provided for when you are no longer with them, do yourself and your family a favor and have your legal documents in place before they are needed.

Key Estate Planning Documents


Estate PlanWill

A will outlines who should receive assets, nominates a guardian for minor children, and names an executor to carry out your wishes.

Powers of Attorney

A Power of Attorney, or POA, is a legal document that appoints someone to act on your behalf.

Health and Life InsuranceAdvance Medical Directives

Advance medical directives are documents that state your wishes regarding healthcare decisions in case you’re not able to communicate those wishes.

Legal DocumentsTrusts

A trust is a legal arrangement created to achieve specific goals during life or at death. A special needs trust may be helpful. Work with an attorney to see if it would be a good fit for your situation.

Letter of Instruction

A letter of instruction is a summary of essential information to clarify your wishes concerning personal and financial matters. It is not a formal legal document, but it can help reduce complexities for those you leave behind.


How to Build an Estate Plan

As the old saying goes… “No one plans to fail, but people fail to plan.” Here are a few easy steps to put your plan into action:

Think about your estate planning priorities. Ask yourself what you want to achieve, loved ones you need to include, and causes you want to support. Consider the needs of your spouse, children, parents, and other loved ones who depend on you.

Before you decide who should get what, make a detailed list of every single asset and liability in your name. This list should include property, vehicles, bank accounts, investment and retirement accounts, insurance policies, liabilities, and personal assets. Also, take note of how the account or asset is titled since the legal implications can be significant to your estate plan.

An estate planning attorney can help you create important legal documents to achieve your goals. Think carefully about the people you choose to include in these documents, as they will be called upon to serve in the roles you designate or appoint.

Key documents could include a will, power of attorney, advanced medical directives, trust, family care plan, and letter of instruction.

Your key legal documents will spell out many of your final wishes, but they may not be all-inclusive. Retirement accounts and insurance policies usually require beneficiary designations to direct where these assets go after you’re gone. Remember, who you designate as a beneficiary will take precedence over your will, so make sure the right people, trust, or organizations are named.

A family care plan guides caregivers by providing important details about child care, school, medical care and family activities. You should consider documenting special care instructions for the veteran in your life.

An estate plan lives and breathes as long as you do and endures after you’re gone. Periodically take time to revisit your plan to ensure everything is still correct. Remember to review your plan with any significant life event such as a new child, marriage, divorce, or death.

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