Figuring out what to do with your assets after you pass away is a large component of estate planning, but generally, planning for the proper management of your financial and health care while you're alive is another major component. There are 3 broad avenues that may need to be used if you become incapacitated to the point where you are no longer able to express your wishes.
First, the Advance Health Care Directive may be needed to give proof to doctors or hospitals that the agent you've selected has the authority to make medical decisions for you. Without this, your family might run into conflicts about what you want regarding medical treatment.
Second, the Durable Power of Attorney may need to be recorded in the county where you own real estate or be provided to financial institutions where you have accounts so that your agent can transact on your behalf. This can be a huge benefit and help your family avoid the need to have a conservator appointed for you.
Third, if you've established a trust, the successor Trustee of your Trust may need to be called into action to take control of the trust assets so that they can continue to be used for your benefit. For those who have trusts, the assets held by that trust can only be utilized by those who have authority to do so, and the successor Trustee is the first in line. This also helps your family avoid the need for a conservatorship.
As such, the nature of an estate plan can be just as important while you're alive as it is after you pass away.