It's quite understandable that no one wants to go through the morbid thought of their own death. However, one has to plan for the complications that surely surface in the lives of their loved ones after such an unexpected and unfortunate event occurs. Estate Planning is one way of easing your family's sorrow after you are no longer with them. In a way, it is you helping them adapt to your absence without throwing the burden of legalities and family conflict on their shoulder.
So, what is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is simply the predetermined process of arranging personal affairs of transferring assets, money, property, and possessions in time of one's death. By having an estate plan, you will be first-handedly making the decision as to what will happen with your money and belongings. This can be done through a will or trust.
The decision to go for either one—will or trust—really depends on the different phases that we go through before we depart. 1) The present; and this is when you are fully functional and able to manage your own affairs independently. 2) Incapacity; and this happens in the unfortunate circumstance that an illness incapacitates you in a coma or an unfit state of mind. Finally, 3) Death.
Depending on preference and circumstances, every person's estate planning strategy is different. To guide you, here are some basic options an estate plan may include:
- A simple will that is put into effect only after death
- Guardianships and conservatorships, where your will include the naming of a guardian if you have children, and a conservator for any incapacitated adults in your care
- A trust that lets you manage assets while you are still alive. Thus, sidestepping the probate process
- The appointment of an agent under durable power of attorney. That is a trusted person who will take care of legal, health, and financial responsibilities if one is mentally incapable
- A healthcare agent who will make decisions about one's medical treatment if one is incapable of doing so
- A healthcare directive that includes instructions on what to do if one is near death, or suffers from a terminal illness