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CHAPTER 15

enter the picture, they won’t be left out. Legally, unless you say that your child or grandchild is not entitled to any of your estate, they are eligible to receive the same share as your other children and grand- children if they contest your will.

LIVING WILLS AND PROXIES

There are a few other estate planning tools that you should consider having. The first is a living will, which tells your doctors what your wishes are concerning life support. If you don’t want to be kept alive by a life support machine, you will need this document; otherwise, your doctors are bound by their oath to do whatever it takes to keep you alive. Second, you may want a health care proxy or power of attorney. This will authorize someone you trust, usually a close fam- ily member, to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes. Finally, you should consider a durable power of attorney, which will allow whomever you choose to make any kind of financial decision for you. If you have a trust, or plan to set one up, you may want a separate power of attorney section inside the trust. Some financial companies require that the durable power of attorney be stated within the trust and may not accept a sep- arate power of attorney. However, you may still name the same per- son as your power of attorney.

TRUSTS

I’ve heard many people say that by establishing a trust, you will elim- inate any estate taxes due. That is a false statement. However, trusts do simplify the transfer of your assets to your heirs, as well as estab- lish whatever guidelines you want. For example, if you want to leave your grandchildren each a sizable amount of money, but believe that they will be too young to manage the money by themselves, you can put the money into trust where it can stay until they are old enough (which is an age that you determine). Or, you can ensure that your assets don’t pass directly to your family members by putting them into a trust.

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