Estate planning can be a difficult topic of conversation. People don’t necessarily like to think about what happens when they pass away or the possibility of being incapacitated. As such, people might delay or decide against estate planning, which can be a big mistake.
That said, it might be easier to think of an estate plan as a toolbox. In it, you keep some tools specifically designed to fix or prevent specific issues. In this context, five tools can be especially important to have in the toolbox.
- A will: A will details what you want to happen to your property and who you want to take care of various tasks. Without this tool, the courts will resolve matters related to property and decision-making in accordance with state laws, which may not align with your wishes.
- An advanced directive or living will: This document directs physicians on what care to provide, if any, when a person cannot express his or her wishes. This includes whether to take a person off life support or provide other life-saving procedures.
- Guardianships: If you have children or other family members in your care, you should assign a guardian to take care of this person in your estate plan. The courts generally comply with a person’s wishes regarding a guardian in his or her estate plan, unless those wishes are impossible or not in the ward’s best interests.
- Trusts: Creating a trust can earmark money or property for specific purposes, avoid probate and potentially reduce tax obligations. Depending on your wishes and the assets you have, there are several different types of trusts that can help you accomplish your goals.
- Durable powers of attorney: Assigning durable powers of attorney enables someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. Under Oklahoma state laws, these permissions may be limited or complete, and they go into effect upon incapacity.
Each of these tools can provide critical protection and solutions for different but common situations that arise after a person becomes very ill or passes away. It is also worth noting that waiting until something breaks to get the tools to fix it can add stress and costs to an already upsetting situation. Having appropriate tools before you ever need them can make it easier and faster to resolve issues when they come up.