I have two purposes for writing these columns and for offering free presentations about estate planning. First, I hope to educate. Estate planning and elder law can have complex strategies and concepts, but we can cut through much of the mystery if I can help people understand a few basic concepts. That is why, in each presentation, we talk about questions such as: What is a power of attorney? What is the difference between a will and a trust? Why would I need a trust? What risks do I need to watch for?
I also encourage people to think about issues they might not realize are important. For example, what else do I need to consider besides what happens to my things when I die? How can I protect myself if I become incapacitated? Can I protect my spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated and I am no longer here?
My second goal is to encourage people to act before their options disappear. Each week, we are contacted by survivors of someone who has recently passed. We are also often contacted by individuals (or their family) dealing with a sudden health event that will require long term care.
If there has been advance preparation, the burden on those who remain, or who are the caretakers, will often be significantly less. On the other hand, if there has been no preparation, or no effort to make sure their estate plan/documents are current, there may be significant issues to work through. Unfortunately, in those cases, the solutions may be very limited, and more expensive.
While we cannot predict the future, there are simple steps we can take to prepare for it. Peace of mind comes if you “plan while you can.” When plans are made in advance, those plans need not be difficult or expensive. Come to a free, no obligation presentation and learn for yourself how simple it can be to ensure you have an estate plan that accomplishes your wishes, even if life suddenly changes for you or your loved ones.