When you think about planning for the future, you may dream of going on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation or saving for retirement or college for your children. You may not consider how important it is to have an estate plan for your future too.
If you haven’t made an estate plan yet to plan for the future, you are not alone. Unfortunately, only 32% of Americans say they have a will or other estate planning documents, according to a 2020 Caring.com survey. Of those surveyed, a majority of people say they just haven’t made estate planning a priority, even though they know it’s important.
The importance of having an estate plan
Everyone can benefit from having an estate plan, not just those who are wealthy. With an estate plan, you give your family direction about your wishes. You get to choose who will receive your assets and your heirloom items in your will. You can name a guardian for your underage or special needs children and establish a trust to provide for them. You can direct that some of your assets go to your favorite charity. Without a will, Texas law will decide how to distribute your assets.
Another important part of your estate plan is creating a living will, or health care directive. With a living will, you will dictate what medical care you will receive or what treatments you don’t want near the end of your life. You can reduce stress and conflict for your family members by letting them know your care wishes.
Finally, with a comprehensive estate plan, you will make plans if you become incapacitated because of an illness or accident. You will create a power of attorney document, to give someone else the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf. You also will create a health care power of attorney document, allowing someone to make medical decisions about your care for you.
When to create an estate plan
It’s best to create an estate plan earlier rather than later. However, it’s rarely too late to create an estate plan. As long as you are 18 or older and have the mental capacity to understand the impact of your estate plan, you can create one. Having an attorney’s help will ensure you make a plan that best fits your circumstances and meets Texas law requirements.
Having an estate plan ultimately gives you peace of mind. You know your estate assets will be distributed the way you want and you will ease your family’s stress over how to follow your end-of-life wishes.