The Difference between Lifetime and Deathtime Planning… and Why a Comprehensive Plan Must Include Both May 9, 2017 According to a March 2017 survey by Caring.com, six out of ten Americans have no will or any other kind of estate planning. Many of those who do not have a plan said they will get one when they are old. Too many Americans view estate planning as “death planning.” But a comprehensive estate plan is not just about death, it is lifetime planning, too. If you were ever unable to take care of yourself financially or medically, who would do so? An estate plan answers this question and many others for you during your lifetime. Lifetime Planning Tools Estate planning attorneys have a wealth of strategies and tools that we can custom-tailor to your needs for your lifetime planning. Here are a few of those tools you should discuss with us. Revocable living trusts Many people think trusts are just for the rich. This is not true. Anyone who has property may need a trust. A trust allows you to still control your property while the trust technically owns your property. This actually protects you if you lose mental capacity and allows for easier management of your assets during your incapacity. As the creator of the trust, you can continue to edit the trust however often life requires. After you pass away, your trust can no longer be changed, and its central purpose is to provide for your beneficiaries in the way that you decide. Your trustee manages the funds and follows your directives in distributing out your property to your loved ones. In many ways after you die, a trust is similar to a will, but a trust is a private document, is administered privately, and controls your assets potentially years or decades into the future. Durable power of attorney Durable powers of attorney allow a trusted individual to manage your finances if you are ever unable or no longer willing to manage them yourself. You can determine what powers you give to that trusted individual, which can include writing checks, paying bills, filing tax returns, or even buy or sell your assets if necessary. The “best” power of attorney reflects your wishes, and we can work together to make that determination. Medical Power of Attorney If you ever enter into a coma or slowly succumb to dementia, a Medical Power of Attorney allows someone to take care of your health. You can express your wishes about pain relief, staying in your home, long-term or hospice care, or other scenarios that matter to you. A Holistic Approach Lifetime planning is a comprehensive approach to estate planning. While these strategies can bless your life now, they may also improve your situation after you pass away as well by limiting family conflict, limiting court interference, and distributing your assets to your loved ones in the way they need.