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Estate planning has something for everyone

There are many misconceptions about estate planning. For instance, many St. Paul residents may think that estate planning is something that only wealthy people do, because those without a substantial amount of money and assets do not need an estate plan. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, as estate planning is something that is in everyone's best interests, no matter what their situation in life may be.

One problem with this preconceived notion is that estate planning is about much more than simply distributing assets. While there certainly are a lot of financial decisions that can be made through estate planning, there are other issues that have nothing to do with finances.

For example, one document that is commonly executed as part of one's estate plan is an advance directive, which addresses certain health care decisions that may be made when a person is suffering from an incapacity. While it may seem hard to imagine being incapacitated, this is an unfortunate fact of life for many individuals, and therefore it makes sense to address matters that will come up in that situation sooner rather than later.

Through an advance directive, individuals can express their wishes on which types of life-sustaining treatments they want to receive if those circumstances arise. This is known as a living will, which allows the person to retain control over making those decisions.

Another type of advance directive is a durable power of attorney for health care, otherwise known as a health care proxy, which gives another person the power to make health care decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual. Accordingly, it functions like other powers of attorney, in that another person is given the power to act for the person who executes the document.

The bottom line is that estate planning is something everyone should consider. Whether it is making financial decisions, or addressing health care issues or other matters, there is something for everyone when it comes to estate planning.

Source: My Edmonds News, "Money talk: from wills to trusts to gifting, estate planning applies to everyone," Erin Eddins, Dec. 22, 2014

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