An estate plan can serve several purposes, such as providing for your spouse and children in the event of an illness or incapacitation. As noted by Bankrate.com, not having a clear plan in place could result in the state making decisions based on its own judgment. 

Individuals generally prepare a will outlining how they wish to pass on their property. Estate plans, however, expand upon a will, and could include instructions concerning a legal guardian to care for your children. It could also detail your personal health care directives. 

What can naming a legal guardian for minor children accomplish?

Your estate plan could include instructions authorizing a legal guardian to take care of your minor children. Your document grants a trusted adult the authority to make decisions on behalf of your children, even for a temporary period if you do not become permanently incapacitated. 

A guardian can generally ensure that your children attend your preferred schools and religious institutions. You may also set up a trust fund for a guardian to pay for your child’s expenses as needed. A trust fund can give you the confidence of knowing that an adult will distribute cash to your children in the manner you wish. It could also help remove worries of theft or squandering. 

How does a health care directive instruct medical professionals?

A health care directive generally gives an individual power of attorney to make medical decisions on your behalf. Your named representative must follow your instructions and ensure that doctors, nurses and medical practitioners follow your wishes. 

If you prefer to avoid invasive end-of-life treatments, your instructions should explain that. You may also describe the type of pain relief that medical professionals should administer. A health care directive may serve to remove the burden of making these decisions from your spouse or family members.