What Should Estate Planning Accomplish?

By Justin S. Eppler

When it comes to the big picture, the answer is the same for every Anchorage resident. Estate planning should provide for surviving loved ones upon death and provide for the individual upon incapacitation. It is the details that make this process different for everyone.

For this reason, each Anchorage resident would need to take stock of his or her situation and assets. Nothing can be done until an individual determines who will inherit and figures out what assets each person will receive. Moreover, he or she would need to choose trusted individuals to fulfill key roles in the estate plan such as an executor and/or a trustee if a trust is included in the plan.

If children and/or pets are involved, they will also need special considerations in an estate plan. A family business needs a successor and retirement accounts need beneficiaries. Not only do assets need to be distributed, but they also need protecting from taxation, creditors, and others who may gain access to them prior to distribution.

Agents for powers of attorney will also need to be chosen. These individuals make financial or health care decisions on a person’s behalf if he or she becomes incapacitated by an illness or injury. This would also be a good time to determine payment for any care during this time.

All of these choices and more require the attention of Anchorage residents engaging in estate planning. It probably will not be comfortable to make these decisions, but once they are made, everyone gains some peace of mind that certain actions will occur in the event of incapacitation or death. Making these choices now also protects grieving or upset family members from having to guess what the individual would want under certain circumstances.