Let's be honest, death is not a popular topic of conversation for the average American. Unfortunately, our discomfort with mortality often leads us to put off estate planning as long as possible. Although it seems counterintuitive, estate planning is also important for life.
Old age, unexpected accidents, and other everyday, non-life-ending events can bring about the need for common estate planning tools. If you become incapacitated, even temporarily, who will manage your medical decisions and financial affairs? It is important to appoint agents (or proxies) to handle these issues before they ever arise. A health care power of attorney clearly indicates who should call the shots when it comes to your medical care in the event that you cannot.
Similarly, a durable power of attorney for financial decisions appoints an agent to manage your financial affairs in the event that you become incapable of doing so. It is important to create this power before an accident or unexpected event occurs so that your agent can quickly step in when needed.
Finally, your living will dictates how you wish to live out your final days. You may choose to have life prolonging medical care even if a physician has determined that you are in a terminal state. Alternatively, you may choose to decline life-prolonging medical care once your condition has been deemed terminal, opting only for sufficient medical care to keep you comfortable as you pass away. By putting your wishes on paper, you provide clear instructions for your family and loved ones who may otherwise face difficult, often controversial decisions as to your end-of-life care.
Estate planning is planning for living, not just for dying.