There is more to creating your estate plan than just outlining who is going to get what when you pass away. Another reason for estate planning is to designate plan for what will happen if you are incapacitated. In this case, the question isn’t where your belongings will go. It’s what you want to happen with your medical care and how your financial affairs will be handled.
If you become incapacitated, someone needs to make decisions for you. Durable powers of attorney designations enable you to choose who will do this for you. There are two of these that you need to determine – health care and financial. You can name the same person for both or you can choose a different person for each.
Many people opt to name a family member for these duties. The issue with this is that it might cause family conflicts. In that case, you can appoint a professional or your estate planning attorney to handle these duties. The most important thing to remember is that the person you name for each of these must be able to make decisions that are in your best interests and that you would make for yourself.
You also need to draft a living will or advanced directive. This document outlines your wishes for medical care if you can’t relay those yourself. You need to make several copies of this and the powers of attorney documents so you can give them to the parties who need them. This includes your family members, your primary care physician, hospitals you’re likely to use and your attorney.