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Estate planning provides protection for the future

When people in Onondaga County think about the future, it can be important to make preparations to protect one's assets and one's loved ones. However, despite the importance of estate planning to meet those goals, at least 40 percent of older Americans do not have basic documents in place that can help them ensure their financial and health matters are addressed if they become incapacitated or pass away. When people don't have the framework in place to protect themselves, they can become more vulnerable to those with ill intent; 20 percent of Americans over 65 are the victims of financial abuse.

There are several key estate planning documents that everyone should have on hand, including a will, a power of attorney for financial issues, an advance health care directive and a health care power of attorney. A will directs how property will be passed on after the person passes away, while the other three documents can help people to make important decisions in case a person is incapacitated. These can include making key health care and financial decisions, so it is important to designate a trusted person with these responsibilities.

In addition to making the initial plans, it can also be important to keep these documents regularly updated. Changing tax laws may affect the way a person wishes to handle their estate, and changing family situations can also affect the distribution of wealth. By reviewing these documents regularly with an attorney, people might be able to ensure that their plans reflect the current legal best practice and are the most advantageous for their needs.

For those considering how best to plan for their family and their estate, developing key documents might be critical for one's own peace of mind as well as one's best interests. An estate planning attorney may be able to work with people to provide guidance and draft wills, trusts and other important documents.

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