If you experience a significant medical event, your family members may be the ones who have to make decisions about your medical care. After a car crash, a stroke or even a heart attack, you may not be able to make your own decisions about the care that you need.

Your spouse or even your children may have to make those decisions on your behalf because you are unconscious or otherwise incapacitated. Although you may have spoken about your wishes in the past, it’s likely that your family members will struggle to recall every term you set during a stressful time.

Have you committed your medical preferences to writing yet?


Maybe you ran a ranch for most of your life and have hundreds of acres of land and thousands of animals that you will leave to a loved one. Perhaps you have valuable real estate holdings, substantial personal investments or a business.

Being able to leave highly valuable property to your loved ones can be a source of comfort and security for those people as they grieve after you die and a source of pride for you in your golden years. Unfortunately, the more valuable your property, the more likely it is that your family and loved ones won’t receive the full value of those assets unless you plan carefully.

Estate taxes impact how much you leave behind and can drastically diminish the value of your estate if you don’t plan for them ahead of time.


Updating an estate plan is an important thing to do. As life changes, an estate plan should also change with the estate planner’s life. Knowing just went to update an estate plan is key for estate planners to be familiar with.

Estate plans should be routinely updated and reviewed but in addition to that, there are certain instances in life when estate planners should always take time to review and update their estate plan. These times include:

  • If the estate planner has experienced a major relationship change – if the estate planner’s relationships change, they should ensure their estate plan incorporates those changes. This can include a marriage, death, divorce or birth for the estate planner.
  • If the estate planner has completed a major move or relocation to another state – if the estate planner moves to another state, they need to ensure that their estate plan complies with the laws of their new state.
  • If the estate planner’s assets or liabilities change – if the estate planner’s assets or liabilities change, they may lead to a change in the distribution of their property or beneficiary designations so it is a good time to update an estate plan if the estate planner’s assets or liabilities change.
  • If the estate planner’s designations are no longer appropriate – sometimes who the estate planner wants to serve as their executor or trustee changes but they need to make that change official in their estate plan. Estate planners should also always keep their beneficiary designations on their retirement accounts and insurance policies up-to-date.

Estate planning can accomplish the wishes of the estate planner and care for their family members which is why it is essential to keep all of that information current. The estate planning process provides flexible tools for estate planners to be able to do this.

Estate planning documents can help estate planners plan for medical incapacity and financial incapacity. It is important to plan for circumstances if an estate planner becomes unable to direct their own medical and financial affairs to help alleviate the burden that may be felt by loved ones and the estate planner themselves and estate planning can help. Following are some of the important estate planning documents to help estate planners plan for incapacity.

Advance healthcare directive or living will

An advance healthcare directive, sometimes referred to as a living will, outlines the medical care and treatment the estate planner wishes to receive. It outlines quality of life concerns and medical treatments the estate planner does, and does not, wish to receive and will also address other concerns such as resuscitation including a do not resuscitate order.

Durable power of attorney for healthcare

A durable power of attorney for healthcare can be used to designate a trusted loved one, family member or friend to direct the estate planner’s medical care if they become incapacitated and are unable to do so and their living will does not also address the medical concern in question. The durable power of attorney will be used to cover concerns not addressed in the advance healthcare directive.


Estate plans contain several different important documents, each designed to ensure that your estate is secure and your family’s future and legacy is in good hands. While many people use wills to list their assets and inheritors, trusts can be just as effective.

If you are considering using a trust in your estate plan, here are just three benefits that come with creating a trust.

Avoid probate



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