Your bags are packed, the reservations have been made, and the kids are looking forward to spending a week at grandma’s house…you and your spouse are ready for a summer getaway. But before you leave for the airport, ask yourself if there’s one plan you might have overlooked: your estate plan.
Without proper estate planning, a vacation mishap could spell disaster for you and those you leave at home. Here’s what an effective estate plan can protect:
Your Health and Well-Being
What would happen if you became seriously ill or were injured during your vacation? Who would make medical decisions for you? Who would take charge of your finances? Without an incapacity plan, an unexpected medical emergency could thrust your family into turmoil. A solid plan, however, could bring a measure of calm and certainty to a difficult situation. Your incapacity plan should include a Durable Financial Power of Attorney and a Health Care Directive. These two documents allow you to appoint an agent to manage your finances and your medical decisions if you become incapacitated and unable handle to these things for yourself.
Your Children’s Future
Proper planning also means making sure your family is taken care of in the event of your death. If you have children who are minors (under age 18), this means creating a Will. For parents of young children, the most important feature of a Will is that it allows you to designate a guardian to care for your children. In fact, a Will is the only legally effective means for communicating your choice.
Your Financial Legacy
With your incapacity plan in place and your children’s guardian designated, you’ll want to turn your attention to your financial legacy. A Living Trust is the cornerstone of many people’s estate plan.
One of the many advantages of a Living Trust is that its property does not go through probate when you die. Instead, the property controlled by your Trust can be distributed by the person you’ve designated to act as your successor Trustee without the need for court supervision. This specific advantage has the potential to save your loved ones time and money.
A Living Trust allows you to dictate not only to whom your assets are distributed, but also how and when they are distributed. This lets you tailor your estate plan to offer added protection for circumstances like divorce, remarriage, creditor claims, and financial inexperience of your heirs.
As vacation season begins, don’t forget to make an appointment with an experienced estate planning attorney. With a solid plan in place, you’ll be ready to relax and enjoy your getaway!
Mr. Ronald “Chip” Morrison, Jr. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and offers guidance and advice to our clients in every area of estate planning. He has been engaged in Louisiana trusts and estate law for the last 16 years. The firm has helped thousands of clients meet their estate planning goals and pass on lasting legacies to their loved ones. For more information or to attend an upcoming seminar, please call our office at (504) 831-2348 or contact us through our website.