At some point in everyone’s life, we begin to understand that our time on earth is limited. Whether it’s the birth of a child, or the death of a parent or loved one, we start to think about leaving a legacy for our children and grandchildren after we’re gone.
Related article: Top 5 Life Events that Cause People to Create a Will
When creating your legacy, there are a number of elements you should consider.
Providing for Future Generations
One key element of leaving a legacy is ensuring, to the best of your abilities, that future generations are provided for. This means creating a last will or a trust. These documents distribute your assets to your loved ones after you die according to your wishes. You can also make donations to charities you support in these documents.
If you have minor children, your legacy to them should also include naming one or more guardians who will take care of them in the event that you are unable to. In Arizona, the only document that lets you name guardians is a last will. When selecting guardians, you should consider:
- Where the guardian lives – it’s not a requirement that guardians live locally, but this can help ease the transition for your children at a difficult time.
- The age of the guardian – although you may love your elderly parents, it may be difficult for them to care for rowdy teenagers as your children get older.
- The stability of the guardians – your brother might be a really fun uncle, but if he’s touring with his band two weeks a month, his home may not be a stable environment for raising children.
Ensuring That You Have the Care You Need
In addition to ensuring that your children and grandchildren are taken care of after you pass, you should also think about what your future looks like. While we all hope to live long and healthy lives, this is not always the case. At some point in the future, our lives may be derailed by mental or physical illness to the point where we cannot care for ourselves.
Because of this uncertainty, it’s very important to consider how you will be taken care of. There are a number of documents that will help your family provide proper care for you. These include:
- Power of attorney documents – These documents will assign an agent the right and responsibility to make financial, medical, and mental health decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able.
- A medical living will – This document is perhaps one of the most important pieces of your estate plan. It will let you lay out how you want to spend your final days, and will give your loved ones permission to let you die peacefully.
By preparing these documents while you are legally competent to do so, you will save your family time and money in the future. Without powers of attorney, your children will need to obtain court-appointed guardianship and/or conservatorship in order to handle even simple matters. Giving your loved ones the ability to care for you will also give them, and you, peace of mind.
By being prepared, your legacy will also include an example of responsible estate planning that your children can emulate for their own children.
This article is for informational purposes and does not provide legal advice. If you have questions regarding estate planning or want to speak with me regarding leaving a legacy for your family, please contact me today.