While planning for the distribution of your estate assets is an integral part of any estate plan, a comprehensive estate plan can do much more. In fact, one of the most important things an estate plan can do for you is to ensure that your wishes are honored throughout your life and even after you are gone. To help you better understand, the Indianapolis estate planning attorneys at Frank & Kraft explain how to ensure that your wishes are honored through the art of estate planning.
Expressing Your Wishes – Is that Enough?
Most of us have definitive opinions about important things such as who will get our assets when we are gone, what medical treatment we are willing to consent to, and even what happens to our physical bodies after we are gone. If you have strong feelings about any, or all, of these subjects, you can express your wishes to your loved ones and hope they abide by those wishes – or you can use your estate plan to make sure that your wishes are honored.
You have undoubtedly heard stories about surviving loved ones fighting over an inheritance or over who gets to decide the details of the funeral and burial for a deceased family member. You may also know someone who had to make unbearably difficult end-of-life decisions for a spouse, child, or another loved one. Situations such as these could have been avoided, and the decedent’s wishes honored, through the art of estate planning.
Making Sure Your Wishes Are Honored through Comprehensive Estate Planning
A comprehensive estate plan offers several opportunities to ensure that your wishes are honored during your lifetime and after your death, such as:
- Distribution of your assets. The most obvious way in which your estate plan helps ensure that your wishes are honored is by allowing you to decide how your estate assets are distributed after you are gone. Through the execution of a Last Will and Testament or the creation of a living trust, you determine who inherits from your estate and exactly what they will inherit. The law requires those wishes to be honored if they are expressed in a valid Will or trust.
- Making healthcare decisions. You may have strong opinions regarding the use of life-prolonging or life-sustaining medical treatment; however, if you are unable to express your wishes because of a temporary incapacity or a terminal condition, someone else must make decisions for you. By executing the appropriate advance directive, you can make some of those decisions ahead of time and decide who will make other decisions for you. Again, the law requires your treating physicians to abide by the decisions expressed in an advance directive.
- Planning your funeral and burial. You may adamantly refuse to be buried or feel strongly about burial instead of creation; however, once you are gone you won’t be the one making those decisions. If you want to ensure that your wishes regarding the disposition of your body after death and/or any funeral services, you need to incorporate a funeral and burial planning component into your estate plan. Through the use of an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) you can make sure your wishes are honored and even arrange to pay for funeral and burial expenses so your surviving loved ones do not need to worry about it.
Contact Indianapolis Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about how the art of estate planning can help ensure that your wishes are honored, contact the experienced Indianapolis estate planning attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.
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