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Estate plans are more than just wills and trusts

Part of planning your estate is making sure that you have just about any situation that might pop up covered. It is easy to focus on the distribution of assets but there is much more to it. The goal is that your family members won't have to guess about what you want if a time comes when you are unable to convey your wishes.

As you work on your estate plan, make sure that you take an honest look at what you need to set up. You have a few options to consider that go beyond will and trusts.

Power of attorney

There are two areas that need a power of attorney. One is your finances and the other is your health care. You might choose the same person for both but you can also choose someone different for each. Think about who will be able to make sound decisions in those areas if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

When you set up the powers of attorney, you have to consider the different types. There are two – durable and springing. A durable power of attorney goes into effect as soon as it is signed. A springing power of attorney doesn't go into effect until you are incapacitated.

Living will

You can set terms for what types of medical care you are willing to accept if you can't speak up about your wishes. This can include everything from life support and resuscitation to intravenous nutrition and pain control.

Think about what you want to go through and what you don't. Remember that there are some decisions that might require you to do additional paperwork. For example, if you are unwilling to accept heroic life-saving measures that will keep your body alive, you might consider a "do not resuscitate" order.

The living will takes the decision away from your family members. They might be in such an emotionally distraught state that they can't think clearly about what you would want. Plus, most people don't want to force their family members to make these decisions.

If you have special concerns that haven't been addressed yet, discuss them with the professional helping you to create the estate plan. You shouldn't leave anything out when you are getting things together.

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