Estate Planning – Not Just for the Elderly
Estate planning is not just for the elderly. Having an estate plan in place is one of the most thoughtful things you can do for your loved ones. Think about it, you plan for the future; you plan for your retirement, but what would happen should the unexpected occur? Regardless of your age, do you want a doctor, or hospital making medical decisions for you? Do you want to leave your family in a position of having to deal with your finances without any authority to access your funds, or worse yet, leaving them to deal with your entire estate with no direction? These things can and do happen when you fail to plan.
Estate planning is one of the most important steps any person can take to make sure that their asset distribution and health care wishes are honored, and that loved ones are provided for in their absence. By taking the time to prepare, you remain in control of your decisions regarding healthcare, end of life decisions, and financial distribution of your assets.
Our estate planning attorneys offer more than 20 years of experience and planning for the following:
- Health Care Directives – This document includes a Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney.
- A Living Will advises your family and medical personnel of your choices for end of life care, and under circumstances of severe brain damage if you are unable to communicate your wishes. Do you prefer to be kept comfortable without heroic efforts, or do you want all available medical intervention to extend your life as long as possible? You have choices regarding invasive and non-invasive medical care when your health renders you unable to express your wishes.
- A Medical Power of Attorney authorizes a person you trust to make health care decisions when you cannot. Your agent provides medical staff with instructions to be used if you are unable to communicate. The person you choose should be able to follow your wishes for medical intervention and make tough decisions if necessary.
- A Financial Power of Attorney names someone to handle your financial affairs in your place. This is important when you are unable to handle financial matters yourself due to illness, dementia or disability. This person is authorized to pay your bills, move money, cash in investment accounts and otherwise make and effectuate financial decision on your behalf. This document is especially critical for the elderly, long term care planning, and preserving your legacy for loved ones. Be mindful that the person chosen will have control of your assets and should be someone who is fiscally responsible and loyal to you.
- Last Will and Testament direct the distribution of your estate upon death according to your wishes. No matter your age or assets, a Will can very literally keep your family together. How many of us have heard of the siblings who no longer speak since Mom and Dad passed? Do you have minor children who will need a guardian? Do you have a non-traditional family and want your assets to go to those you love but to whom you are not related to? Whatever your situation, a Will ensures your wishes are realized.
Whether you are single with assets, married with children, or elderly, proper planning can help to avoid unpleasant and costly surprises and offer peace of mind to all parties involved. Taking the time to put a plan in place now allows for families to focus on other things when dealing with loss and grieving.
All of these documents ensure that, regardless of the situation, whether during your lifetime or after your death, YOU have a say in who makes decisions and what direction those decisions take. Take control and begin the steps to create an estate plan that is right for you. We can help you navigate the options and advise you about what may be best for you and your family. Give our office a call at (412) 281-3007.
About the Author: Attorney Nicole Boyle Kairys is a partner at Volker & Kairys law firm located in Pittsburgh, PA. The firm focuses on mediation and collaborative law, family law and estate planning. Attorney Kairys is active in the Allegheny County Bar Association and the Collaborative Law Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Matrimonial Inns of Court and volunteers with the Pro Bono Legal Clinic and Mock Trial Program for Advanced Family Law Advocacy students at the University of Pittsburgh.