By creating an estate plan, youcan have the satisfaction ofknowing your assets will bedistributed to your familyand loved ones as you intended. Youhave many tools available to help youdo this, including a will, durable powerof attorney, health care power of attorney,living will, and trusts. Let's take acloser look at each of these vehicles:
•Will. This document is basicallyyour plan for distributing your assets tofamily members and other beneficiaries.You can customize certain provisions tomeet your needs and name a guardianfor your minor children in your will.However, should you become incapacitated,this document will not providefor the management of your assets.
•Durable power of attorney. Thislegal document allows you to nameanother person to act on your behalfshould the need arise. This person willgenerally be able to sell, invest, andspend your assets according to yourinstructions. Unlike a traditional powerof attorney, which terminates at disabilityor death, a durable power of attorneycontinues during incapacity or disabilityto provide a financial managementsafety net.
•Health care power of attorney. Ahealth care power of attorney authorizesan individual, who is designated by you,to arrange for your personal care andmedical needs in the event that you areunable to perform these tasks yourself.
•Living will. A living will is a documentthat expresses your intentionsregarding the use of life-sustaining measuresin the event of a serious physicalor mental condition.
•Trusts. Trusts are one of the mostflexible and all-encompassing planningtools available. Working with your attorney,you can customize trust provisionsto accomplish a multitude of goals. Forexample, you can provide for continuedmanagement of your finances whileyou're alive and healthy, in the event ofan accident, and upon your death.
It is often a good idea to includechildren and grandchildren in the planningprocess or outline the structure ofyour estate plan with family memberswho will be affected. In addition, theseindividuals should also know whereyour estate documents are located.Estate plans are generally more successfulwhen there is support and cooperationfrom family members. An estate plan can ensure that yourassets will be preserved.
is vice president,
investments, and a financial
consultant with AG Edwards in
Hillsborough, NJ. He welcomes
questions or comments at 800-288-0901 or www.agedwards.com/fc/joseph.lagowski. This article was provided by AG
Edwards & Sons, Inc, member SIPC.
Joseph F. Lagowski