BOSTON (CBS) - Estate planning is a key element in any financial plan no matter what your age. Estate planning allows you to decide how your assets should be distributed upon your death. In essence it allows control from the grave!
And a word of advice to those under 50, dying does not just happen to old people. But too often young people think it does and that is a stumbling block to get this last piece of the financial plan finished.
If you do not have a will the state of Massachusetts will provide one for you. It has estate laws that dictate to whom your assets should go to if you die.
And if you are married with young children and both parents die who becomes the children's guardian will be up to the state's court system.
Think about this, do you want your cousin Vinnie and his wife to raise your kids? If there is a lot of life insurance money involved, cousin Vinnie will probably step right up to help out.
So have a conversation with the person you are considering to raise your children. Know what their values are and their patience level.
Estate Planning does not have to be fancy, expensive or complicated. You start with a will. In it you name an executor/executrix to carry out your wishes and distribute your assets and if you do have minor children you can name a guardian for them.
Next, a Durable Power of Attorney is needed. It allows you to appoint someone to act on your behalf legally and financially if you are unable to.
Health Care Proxy: this document allows you to choose someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them.
Have a discussion with the person you have asked to be your proxy. Talk about how you feel about death, dying and life support. This is about you and not about what they believe is right.
To down load free copies of the proxy go the Massachusetts Medical Society's website.
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