Three documents that most people in Minnesota should consider including in their estate plan are a will, a living will and a durable power of attorney. However, one survey reports that only 18 percent of respondents age 55 and up have executed all three of these important documents. In fact, the survey reports that nearly 50 percent of respondents in this age group have not even executed a will. The silver lining, however, is that 90 percent of respondents reported being willing to discuss end-of-life issues with their loved ones.

This is good, as estate planning is not just for the wealthy. Even if you are of modest means, if you die intestate, your property will go to certain heirs determined by the state. Moreover, if you have minor children and you have not legally designated a guardian for them in your will, should the unthinkable happen and you and your child’s other parent both pass away before the child is grown, the state will appoint a guardian without you ever having a say in it.

A living will — sometimes referred to as an advance healthcare directive — is also important. In a living will, a person states what type of medical care they wish to receive if they become incapacitated and can no longer advocate for themselves. For example, a person can outline whether they’d prefer to be put on life support in their living will.

Finally, there is a durable power of attorney. In this document, a person names the individual they want to handle their financial affairs if they are no longer able to do so. Again, you may have a solid opinion on who you’d like to fulfill this role, so it is important to document that opinion legally.

In the end, some people might procrastinate about estate planning, but it really opens the door for healthy discussions with your loved ones about important end-of-life issues. These issues can be very emotional, so it is good for your loved ones to know what your wishes are before it’s too late. By doing so, your loved ones will feel confident that they are making the choices you would have preferred, and your wishes will likely be honored.

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