It’s never too late to start making wise decisions.

Kirby Stoll from the Northwestern Foundation and Paul Stein from Advanced Retirement Resources help us work through difficult questions and explain the essential documents of estate planning.

Why is estate planning so far off of the radar for some people?

Paul shares a few possible explanations and offers valuable insight into the world of estate planning.

“One reason why people don’t do estate planning is because sometimes they do think, ‘That’s just for people that have more than I do or that are older than I am.’ So I think that’s probably the reasons why people don’t get around to it.”

“Everyone that’s 18 or older should have an estate plan because there are some parts of the estate plan that people don’t think about. Everybody thinks about the will and that is an important document to understand, but there are a couple documents that really anybody 18 or over should have that would be a part of your estate plan.”

We learn about the benefits to having a power of attorney (POA) document.

“That basically is just a document that is, if I’m incapacitated, it empowers someone else to take care of financial matters for me; whether it’s paying my rent or paying my taxes. It’s just a real simple document that really every adult should have. If I have a spouse, my spouse can take care of things that are jointly held; she can write checks out of our joint checking account, but she wouldn’t be able to get money out of my for 401K to pay a bill or make an adjustment my IRA, for example.” 

We need to be prepared for the unexpected.

Paul explains real life situations that may occur and reiterates the importance of a power of attorney letter.

“We’ve had situations over the years of clients with adult children that were in a car accident or even in their 20’s and had a stroke. It’s very inconvenient to have to go through a court procedure to get power to take care of just basic things. If somebody would just had a power of attorney would have been taken care of.”

In addition to having a will and a power of attorney, Kirby and Paul discuss another important document that should be in our estate plan: A health care directive.

“The other document that every person should have if they’re 18 or older would be a health care directive. As the power of attorney takes care of financial matters, where you name somebody else to take care of those things for you, a health care directive is where you name someone else to make health care decisions for you.”

“It does two things: You name the person to be your health care agent and then the second thing is that gives you the opportunity to give them some instructions on what you would want or not want in different situations.”

Estate planning is an important part of life as an adult, but we don’t have to plan alone. Wise counsel and advice for individual plans is available, we just need to reach out and ask for help.

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