Procrastination with estate planning could lead to problems

Some people in Minnesota might dislike talking about money or death. This natural emotional resistance, however, could leave a person and family unprepared if an unexpected event leaves someone incapacitated or dead. A lack of financial planning could also make an elderly person vulnerable to financial abuse, which strikes approximately 20 percent of people over age 65.

Financial matters represent the first issue that an estate plan should address. In addition to writing a will, a person should prepare a financial power of attorney. That document assigns someone to make money decisions if the person can no longer function. Beneficiaries on trusts or other assets need to be clearly named as well.

An estate plan can establish a trusted person to make healthcare decisions for an incapacitated person. People accomplish this assignment with a healthcare power of attorney. Used in conjunction with an advanced health directive, which specifies a person's wishes regarding medical care, the power of attorney removes mysteries about what a person wants and who should decide.

Ideally, the documents for an estate plan should be stored in a location accessible to heirs or trustees. Services exist that store estate plans electronically. People should inform those affected by their estate plans of where to find the documents.

Legal advice often plays a role in the estate planning process. A may could ask an attorney to recommend approaches for protecting assets, maintaining privacy or selecting trustees. An attorney may be able to analyze the person's finances and personal goals and suggest strategies for meeting them. Trusts might represent a viable tool, especially if someone wants to limit taxation on heirs or insulate heirs from creditors. After the person makes decisions, an attorney may draft all of the official documents.

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