For many people, estate planning makes them think of dividing their property among their children after their death. Certainly, the distribution of your assets after your passing is a major issue that you will address when planning your estate. Many estate planning documents protect the people you love and your legacy after you die.
However, there are also numerous ways that you can use your estate plan to protect yourself as you grow older. If you suffer cognitive decline as you age or experience some kind of medical emergency, your estate plan can protect you when you are at your most vulnerable.
How does a comprehensive estate plan help you after an emergency leaves you incapacitated, unconscious or unable to communicate?
You can control your own health care
Creating an advance medical directive allows you to name someone to act on your behalf for the purpose of making medical decisions. The right paperwork, executed ahead of time, will give someone you trust access to your medical records and the authority to make decisions about the care that you receive.
You can also provide specific instructions about different medical decisions. From your preferences on pain management and palliative care to how you want your loved ones to fund long-term nursing home care, you can address many possible situations in your estate plan.
You can protect your finances
There are numerous ways for you to protect your financial circumstances in your estate plan. Drafting a financial power of attorney helps ensure there is someone to pay your bills if you wind up in the hospital for several months.
You can also create a trust or change how you hold ownership of your assets to protect them from creditors and reduce the possibility of collection activity against your estate after you die. You don’t want to recover from an extreme medical emergency only to find out that the bank is about to foreclose on your house or go through great pains to plan your legacy, only to have medical creditors claim all of your property after a hospitalization.
Creating a thorough, personalized estate plan will help you protect your medical wishes and finances in an unpredictable world.