Individuals may prepare an estate plan at whatever time they wish. Age or finances may not affect their ability to do so. As described by the Delaware Journal of Public Health, however, the courts may apply a three-point test to determine an individual’s state of mind.
When creating a will, an individual must have the ability to exercise sound thought, judgment and reflection. Testators need to know the effect of their actions and have a knowledge of how to distribute assets. Finally, an individual must show an understanding of the nature of his or her will and have a memory of creating it.
Estate plans may assist when incapacity or illness occurs
Delaware’s statutes allow individuals to use estate plans as tools to protect their health and property. The law, however, requires creating the appropriate legal documents before becoming incapacitated or ill. Preparing an advance health-care directive provides instructions regarding medical treatment.
A durable power of attorney authorizes a chosen individual to manage another person’s assets and business affairs. When creating a POA, individuals may authorize their chosen agent to manage their property during incapacity or illness. An agent may also continue assisting them when they get better. Individuals must, however, execute their documents while they understand their actions.
Family discussions about wills and trusts may help avoid disputes
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance notes that after creating them, individuals should discuss estate plans with family members. Healthcare directives, for example, may include instructions for end-of-life medical care or funerals. Discussing preferences with loved ones may help them avoid uncomfortable surprises. Speaking to heirs about assets they may or may not receive could prevent disputes after death.
Legal documents that comprise a strong estate plan could take time and thought to prepare. The Delaware Code requires creating wills or trusts while an individual maintains his or her powers of judgment and reflection.