Taking your health for granted is risky. No matter how hale or fit you feel right now, neither you nor anyone else is immune from illness. Some can prove severe, and even if your prognosis is good, you may fear for the worst if your affairs are not in order.
You may not yet have drafted a will or created a trust. Or you might worry that you will deplete your estate to pay for healthcare bills. No matter the case, you have options for protecting your assets in case of a sudden illness.
If you are intestate
In 2017, around 40% of American adults had drafted wills or formed trusts. While almost 80% of retirees had created a plan for their assets, fewer middle-aged or older workers had done so. If you do not write a will before you die, your assets will become intestate property. This property will likely go to your spouse. If they have passed or you are single, your children or closest next of kin will inherit your assets. Yet you may have more specific ideas about how you want these discharged. No matter your health, drafting a short will that directs the discharge of your most valued property can only benefit you.
If you have a will or trust
If you contract a serious illness or disease, you may lose the physical or mental ability to control your assets. In this case, you will want to designate a power of attorney in your will or trust. Your power of attorney may be the same person as your will or trust’s executor. But in this case, they will follow your directives regarding your assets and healthcare decisions. Appointing one is crucial in ensuring that your desires are carried out as intended.
You may have an irrevocable trust rather than a revocable trust or a will. If so, it could protect your assets against healthcare debts and expenses. The assets in the trust no longer belong to you. Instead, they belong to it. If you incur medical debts, creditors cannot touch your trust. And it will also help you qualify for Medicaid, since the assets in the trust, while discharged by you, are not your property.
You might not think about estate planning until it’s too late. But having a will or trust and a power of attorney can save you in cases of sickness or disease. Working with an estate planning lawyer can help you protect your assets while they’re still in your control.