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Five Things You Need to Know About Estate Planning to Protect Your Family

Failing to plan for your future can lead to undesirable results.   Most people understand that if they don’t have a will or trust in place at the time of their death that their property might not be distributed according to their wishes.  However, many people are unaware that if they don’t have an estate plan in place:

1) Their children could be placed in DHS custody while the Courts determine guardianship;

2) They could end up in a nursing home while the Courts attempted to sort out guardianship issues for the individual;

3) They could be kept alive on life support for an extended period of time; 

4) Their family could have to endure a timely and costly probate process after they pass;  and

5) Their life insurance proceeds could not go to their minor children, so they would have to rely on their designated beneficiaries to provide for their children with no legal obligation to do so.

Don’t let these unfortunate consequences happen to you.  All of these undesirable results can be avoided by careful planning.


By having a will in place you can make sure that your property is distributed according to your wishes and you can chose guardians for your minor children.  The downside of a will is that it has to be probated which can be costly and time consuming.



A trust will allow you to make sure that your property is distributed according to your wishes and avoids probate.  A pour-over will is created along with the trust and can address guardianship of your minor children.


Durable Powers of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to take care of your finances, personal, and business affairs in the event of your incapacity.  Most of the time guardianship provisions are also included so that in the event of your incapacity the guardian of your choice could make decisions regarding your care.


Health Care Directive

A health care directive allows you to make decisions regarding your medical care.  You can determine what, if any, life sustaining treatments you would want and whether or not you would like to donate your organs.   It also allows you to appoint a health care proxy to make medical decisions on your behalf.  However, your health care proxy cannot make decisions that conflict with the decisions you select regarding life sustaining treatment.