blog_greatestgift_peaceofmindThis time of year, you’ll find a lot of great deals on just about every kind of gift you could possibly think of – and some you never would. Picking the perfect gift can become an overwhelming task. At Generation Law, we’re here to help simplify your holiday shopping with free pointers on the greatest gift of all: peace of mind.

While the holidays are a time of joy and celebration, we can’t ignore that we all get closer to the end with each passing year. Preparing an estate plan helps prevent confusion, financial distress and family arguments after you’re gone. Here are some things to think about as you create your plan and keep the peace this holiday.

1. Create a will

A large part of estate planning is making sure your assets (money and belongings) are distributed appropriately. A will lets you determine who gets what asset of yours through a court-appointed process called probate. Keep in mind that you can’t use a will to leave instructions about assets in a trust, held in joint tenancy or that have designated beneficiaries, such as insurance policies. Speaking of, it’s a good idea when packaging this gift up to revisit all your beneficiary designations to make sure that they’re up to date. If your parents are deceased, it’s not going to do much good to have them as the beneficiaries on your life insurance policy.

2. Creating trusts

Trusts are like a bowl of candy. The trust is the bowl, and the pieces of candy inside are your assets. A trustee is assigned to manage the trust (the candy bowl) and doles out pieces of candy based on the trust’s instructions. Essentially, a trust makes sure your money goes where you want it to go in the manner you want it to go there without a probate. Any of our Generation Law attorneys can help you determine if a trust will work for you.

3. Appointing powers of attorney

If an accident or illness ever leaves you unable to make your own decisions, a power of attorney agent is there to make them for you. A financial power of attorney is legally authorized for managing your money, while a healthcare power of attorney is legally authorized for making all medical decisions on your behalf.

The most important part of choosing a power of attorney agent is assigning them before you need them. You must have the mental capacity to understand what you’re signing in order for your power of attorney to hold up in court. Also, you should be certain you choose trusted and responsible people, and that they know exactly what your wishes are. Because when your financial or healthcare power of attorney steps up to bat, you won’t be in a position to coach them along.

4. Special needs planning

If you’re the parent of a disabled child with special needs, we highly recommend you have a special needs plan in place. A plan like this makes considerations for providing them with stable living conditions, securing public benefits for living expenses, setting up a special needs trust and obtaining guardianship if your adult child is unable to take care of themselves.

5. Plan for end-of-life care

Even if you live to be 120 years old, there may come a time when you need extra care. The kind of care isn’t always your choice, either. An accident or illness can determine whether you live your remaining days out at home or in a nursing home. Either way, you should plan for it. Not only should you make your wishes known – home care versus assisted living, for example – but you should prepare for the financial cost of your end-of-life care. Care in a facility can run you more than $8,000 a month, which is a financial surprise no one wants.

Presenting the gift

Communicating your wishes is part of the gift-giving process. Don’t keep it a secret that your nephew is your healthcare power of attorney, or else he may not be there when you need him. If you need ideas on how to deliver this great gift to your loved ones, our attorneys are able to assist you on that as well once they’ve finalized your estate plan.

As great as the gift of peace of mind is, we don’t recommend it be the only gift you give this season. Some people do still like Fitbits and cat mugs, you know.