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This post was updated on March 28, 2022
Let's face it: Estate planning is not exactly exciting or uplifting. Pondering what will happen after you die can feel pretty morbid. But here's something we all know: Dying with a will in place is better than dying without, for both your family and your assets.
So how do you get past all the unpleasantness and get yourself a plan? By answering the hard questions. Here are five of the most challenging estate planning questions and why you need to answer them anyway.
Protecting your children is one of the main reasons to have a will in the first place. Of course you don't want to think of dying before your children grow up, but making sure they're taken care of after you're gone is a parent's paramount concern. A will allows you to designate who will have custody of your minor children (which can be as important as designating who will not) if both you and your children's other parent pass away.
This is not a decision to make lightly either. You and your spouse, partner, or co-parent need to think through the choices and make sure that person or couple is on board. You can also name an alternate guardian if your first choice cannot fulfill their duties.
People are freezing their genetic material as part of the fertility process. So before your heirs become embroiled in an embryo custody battle, make sure you designate what should happen to your preserved sperm, eggs, or fertilized embryos before you pass away. Think about this just like any other property.
Beyond the philosophical aspects of this question lie practical realities that your loved ones may face, should you become incapacitated. That's why delineating end-of-life scenarios in a living will and health care directive is essential. You can remove the decision-making burden from your family and ensure your final wishes are granted.
A living will spells out your desire for care when you are incapacitated. Do you want to remain on life support if you are declared brain dead? Do you want to be resuscitated if your heart stops during surgery? These are questions you should think about. A health care directive can grant someone the power to manage your health care if you are unable.
Will your Facebook feed shut down automatically? Can your cousin hijack your Twitter account? With so many social media apps (and usernames and passwords), the thought of them updating after your death can be frightening. That's why creating a trust to manage your websites and social media accounts can be so crucial.
You might think ignoring an unpopular or inconvenient descendant is the best policy. When it comes to your estate, failing to disclose all the "objects of your bounty" could lead to problems later if that person decides to show up and claim your assets. The same is true for any long companionship you might've kept secret.
The key to creating a good estate plan is to tackle the tough questions and answer them honestly. FindLaw Legal Forms & Services allows you to create an estate plan from the comfort of your home and at an affordable price. You can create custom forms tailor-made for your state. If you have a more complex estate, you could also talk to an estate planning attorney about your options.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.