Although we all hope to lead long and healthy lives, we may be shocked to learn we suffer from a serious medical condition. A diagnosis of cancer, heart disease or other chronic condition can be traumatic and propel our lives into turmoil.
Chronic illness is more common than you may realize: an estimated 157 million people in the United State live with a chronic condition. When you’re faced with a serious illness, and hopefully, before that, it’s important to review your estate plan, or work with an estate planning attorney to create a comprehensive plan.
Wills and trusts
Many of us are familiar with wills as a means to distribute personal assets to named beneficiaries. Your estate planning attorney can help you draft a will in which you will provide directives for the administrator of your estate to explicitly follow. The terms of your will and/or trust include to whom you want to give away real estate, personal property and other assets to.
Your estate planning attorney may suggest a trust will suit your needs, and the needs of your beneficiaries. Assets distributed through a will are subject to probate and are public information. Trusts transfer assets without probate, enable you to use your assets while you’re alive, provide for a trustee you choose to disburse your assets according to your instructions, protect your assets from Medicaid asset evaluations, and keep your financial details private.
Powers of attorney
You should also consider signing or updating powers of attorney. Powers of attorney allow you to assign legal or medical authority to another person. Many individuals choose their spouse as power of attorney, but you can choose anyone you prefer.
When signing a power of attorney, make sure to choose someone you trust implicitly. They will be able to act on your behalf—whether making medical, financial or legal decision should you become incapacitated. It’s also wise to review and update your powers of attorney every few years.
If you have the means to do so, you may consider making provisions for final arrangements in your estate plan. Some people set aside a certain amount of money to cover the costs of final arrangements, while others leave detailed instructions for their funeral and funds to pay for it. Your Dworken & Bernstein estate planning attorney will draft a plan according to your wishes.
While a serious medical prognosis can be upsetting, having seasoned attorneys on your side can help ease the burden. The attorneys at Dworken & Bernstein can help you create or update a comprehensive estate plan at any stage of life. Call us today for assistance.