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What Should Be Included in an Estate Plan?

Power of Attorney

A good estate plan will anticipate circumstances that may occur at the end of your life. It’s possible for any of us to become incapacitated, either mentally, physical or both. This requires other people to have the legal authority to act on our behalf. Your estate plan should include power of attorney designations. You identify the people who are given responsibility for your medical care, physical care (i.e., where you live), and financial care. You can choose different people, and the scope of their authority can be made contingent on the extent of your disability.

Advance Medical Directives

There are some common medical situations that can be reasonably foreseen, and you may already know how you would want such a situation handled. The most common involves the use of extraordinary measures to keep a patient alive. You may already know whether or not this is something you would want. You can communicate this in an advance medical directive. Decisions not addressed in an advance directive will otherwise be made by the person to whom you granted healthcare power of attorney.

What Should Be Included in an Estate Plan?

Wills & Trusts

A will is the standard way of outlining, in a legally binding form, how your assets are to be distributed. Without a will, your assets are distributed in accordance with intestacy laws. While those laws do try to put your legacy into the hands of family, the ultimate result may not be aligned with your wishes.

After creating a will, the next step is to set up a trust. Putting your assets in a trust allows your heirs to avoid probate court and its attendant costs. Furthermore, trusts offer flexibility. You can fund them during your life or at your death. You can structure them in ways that will obtain tax benefits. They can be set up to pay your beneficiaries over a period of time or upon the occurrence of certain events (e.g. graduation from college).

Considerations for Special Needs Children

Parents who have disabled children have their own set of estate planning needs. The long-term needs of the disabled child must be met in a way that does not compromise their eligibility for government assistance. Disabled children may require legal guardians and conservators. An estate plan can make provisions for all this.

The Importance of Keeping Your Estate Plan Updated

Finally, a good estate plan is one that is regularly reviewed and updated. Circumstances change, and the people and causes we may wish to bequeath our legacy to may change. It’s a good idea for you and your attorney to pull out your estate plan on an annual basis and make sure it still meets your needs.

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Contact Us

Lexemy Law, LLC has over 15 years of experience helping the people of Lake Oswego and the Portland area deal with the difficult issues that come up during the estate planning process. We understand what questions need to be asked and what issues must be dealt with, and we craft an estate plan that meets your needs.

Call (503) 726-1079 or contact us online to set up an initial consultation.

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