Coates & Davenport, P.C.

Give your loved ones the gift of estate planning this season

As 2018 draws to a close and 2019 is upon us, it is a time of reflection. As a person takes stock of their life, what they've done and what they wish for the future and beyond, one thing that they may want to contemplate is executing an estate plan. A well-rounded estate plan can protect you and your loved ones should you become incapacitated, and it can ensure your assets will be handed down to your chosen heirs once you pass on.

Of course, people in Virginia might execute a will or a trust as a means of leaving an inheritance to their loved ones. However, an estate plan can be so much more comprehensive than just this. For example, what if you are the parent to a minor child and you and the child's other parent both pass away before the child becomes an adult? In an estate plan, a parent can appoint who they want to serve as guardian of their minor child should just such a situation occur. Without a guardian named in an estate plan, the court will determine who will best be suited to be guardian of your child. Most parents want to have a say in what would happen in this situation, so estate planning can be key.

In addition, sometimes a person develops an incapacitating illness or injury during their lifetime. Although they are still alive, they can no longer make financial or health care decisions on their own behalf. Designating a medical power of attorney and financial power of attorney can allow people to select who will make these types of decisions for them, should they be unable to do so themselves. A health care directive can also lay out what care a person wants if they are incapacitated. If a person does not have these documents, should they become incapacitated their loved ones may disagree on what decisions to make and who should make them, which could make an already stressful situation even worse.

An estate plan is a gift you can leave your loved ones, who will know what your wishes are and will not have to guess as to what you would like when you can no longer speak for yourself. Being prepared with an estate plan early on is essential to ensuring that your wishes are made known and will be followed.

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