By John C. Foster and Christen E. Gay
Your estate includes everything you own.
If “estate planning” sounds like something that is only necessary if you are wealthy or own real estate, think again. Contrary to popular belief, your estate includes everything you own. Therefore, if you would like a certain piece of personal property to go to specific person you should execute a will at the very least. Otherwise, the state will determine how your property is distributed at your passing.
Consider, also, incapacity.
Even if you don’t care who gets what after you pass away because, let's face it, it’s no longer your problem, you should still have an advanced health care directive and durable power of attorney. These documents are essential for dealing with all the issues that arise when you are still alive but are unable to care for yourself for a brief or extended period of time.
These documents are vital when dealing with prolonged diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, where managing finances and making healthcare decisions become all but impossible without significant assistance. They can also be very helpful if, for example, you are in an accident requiring an extended hospital stay and bills need to be paid. In this situation, if you give someone power of attorney, they will be able to manage your finances and make sure your bills are paid on time.
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