Why do I need an Estate Plan?

A common response when I mention that I help clients with their estate plans is “I don’t need an estate plan. I don’t have anything.” Usually my response is “Do you have kids?” If you do, then you need an estate plan. An estate includes anything you can’t take with you when you die, such as your car, your home, bank accounts, personal possessions, life insurance and investments.

Many people think you only need an estate plan if you have piles of money, but our estate plans work best for those who don’t have a large estate, and they do more than protect your money and assets. Our basic estate plans include a will or a trust, a power of attorney, and a healthcare directive.

The will is the primary document that works for most clients and it does more than spell out who you would like to receive your money. A will names guardians who would raise your children if something were to happen to yourself and your children’s other parent. This is why it is especially important for young families to have an estate plan in place.

A power of attorney is a very powerful document. By signing this document, you are giving the person you named permission to act on your behalf. This person will then have access to your accounts and the ability to make legal and financial decisions for you. A power of attorney is very helpful if a person is incapacitated; if this happens, the attorney in fact can step in and pay bills and uphold other financial obligations.

We also include a healthcare directive in our estate plans. The healthcare directive names an agent to make decisions, similar to the power of attorney, but the agent makes healthcare decisions instead. This document can also list specific wishes for end of life care, funeral arrangements, burial or cremation, and organ donation.

As you can see, an estate plan handles more than just money and is important regardless of the size of the estate. If you have questions about an estate plan, contact Mundahl Law today at 763.445.2620.

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