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Estate planning is important for physicians and other professionals in Kentucky because without an estate plan, the state will decide what happens to a person’s assets. A lack of planning for incapacity can mean that people who cannot communicate their wishes could lose control of both their health care and their finances. Estate plans should be reviewed and updated regularly since a change in family, assets or laws could mean a revision is needed.

Wills and Trusts

While many people think of wills as the primary estate planning document, a trust may be useful for some. Assets in a will must pass through probate, and this can be a lengthy process. With a revocable living trust, they pass directly to your beneficiaries after your death. Revocable trusts have other advantages as well, such as allowing you to leave assets for beneficiaries who have special needs without affecting their access to government assistance.

Planning for Incapacity

Incapacity planning can help if you become unable to make decisions about finances or convey your wishes for medical care because you are too injured or ill. You can use a power of attorney to appoint someone to manage your finances. A living will and a health care proxy can address your wishes for end-of-life care and appoint someone to make health care decisions for you.

It is important that these documents are prepared correctly and that their instructions are clear. Discussing your wishes with your loved ones ahead of time might also reduce the likelihood that your documents might be challenged or misunderstood. An attorney may help you determine whether you need more or different estate planning documents. For example, some people may want an irrevocable trust. You lose control of assets you place in an irrevocable trust, but it offers greater protection.