Estate planning can be incredibly valuable for financial purposes, from preserving assets to covering long-term care expenses. However, there is more to estate planning than money.
An estate plan can also convey a person’s beliefs and values. Things like final arrangements, end-of-life care and legacies are highly personal matters, and you can use an estate plan to share these with those whom you love.
Tools you can use
To ensure your plan reflects your wishes, you can consider several planning tools. These can include:
- Charitable trusts: These trusts allow you to set aside money and property for a charitable organization of your choosing. You can also use a trust to establish a foundation or charity.
- A will with final arrangements: In your estate plan, you can dictate what you want regarding your final arrangements. Often, these wishes are significantly affected by a person’s religion or culture. You can provide direction for burial, cremation and other preparations that align with your beliefs.
- Advance care directive: People often have strong convictions regarding the care they want or do not want at the end of their lives. One example is the wish for medical professionals to withhold life-saving efforts under specific circumstances. This document can establish these wishes.
- Property distributions: You can choose how to distribute your assets and property. You can leave gifts to beloved friends; you can set up trusts to stagger payments to your children to prevent wasteful spending; you can set aside funds for caring for a family pet. These wishes say a lot about your priorities, and taking control of distribution instead of leaving it in the hands of the state can ensure your wishes are carried out.
Other ways to protect your legacy
These estate planning tools can be invaluable when it comes to the legal process of settling a person’s affairs.
However, it is also crucial to discuss your plans with your loved ones ahead of time. Doing so enables them to make certain decisions without having to wait for an estate plan to be located and read, which is critical when it comes to timely events like a funeral.
Thus, while you should put everything in writing, it is also wise to talk about your plans with a trusted loved one.