When someone creates a DIY will, they may have something that amounts to one piece of an estate plan. Even if that same person takes their will to an estate planning attorney and that attorney completely rewrites it (to fit the client’s specific needs and wishes), the client still cannot say they have an estate plan. An attorney selects a series of documents that come together to create one. He will work with the end in mind when choosing which documents and tools to utilize. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Wills and trusts, for example, are valuable estate planning tools, but they usually don’t constitute the entirety of your plan. If you create a trust and place everything you own in it, there may still be other documents to consider. Advanced directives are excellent examples of these. Upon learning these, you will have a deeper understanding of the different elements that have to come together to generate the plan that protects you, your assets, and your beneficiaries.
What Are Advanced Directives
They are legally binding documents that express your wishes regarding medical care and the possible treatment you could receive. They are called advanced directives because they are created before a severe illness or accident. These are to be used if you are incapacitated or are unable to speak on your behalf. For instance, you can specify in your advanced directives if you want to be kept on life-sustaining machines or any medications that you do not want to receive. Hopefully, these may never have to be used, but you are prepared to face the uncertainty of the future.
Another thing that can be achieved through advance directives is designating a health care agent. This person understands your wishes and ensures that they are carried out. Having someone who can speak for you eliminates the need for another person, usually a close relative, to make these decisions without your input. Without advanced directives, a spouse, child, parent, grandparent, or even a niece or nephew could be forced to make them.
Updating Your Advanced Directives
If you change your mind about your wishes, your advanced directives can be canceled or altered. Estate planning happens throughout your life. When your life changes, so should your estate plan. For example, you may have chosen your spouse to be your health care agent. If that marriage ends, you will need to identify a new person. People who have advanced directives and choose to move to another state should meet with an attorney to verify that it meets their new state’s law requirements.
Kevin Tharpe, P.C.
Estate planning is a means of being prepared for the future. Anyone, regardless of age, can be involved in an accident. Advanced directives are a way to express your wishes in the face of uncertainty. For more information about estate planning, wills, trusts, and advanced directives, contact J. Kevin Tharpe P.C. to schedule a consultation.