One of the big things a person can do to try to ensure that their specific desires for what will happen if they become incapacitated and when they pass away are properly followed through on and that legal processes that arise in relation to their incapacitation/death go smoothly is to set up an estate plan. One misconception some people might have about estate plans is that, once a person sets up an estate plan, they don't really need to think about it or do anything more with it moving forward. However, there are in fact many things it can be important for a person to do after they have set up an estate plan to help ensure that the plan will actually achieve the goals they want it to.
One of these things is to keep their estate planning documents (such as will documents, trust documents, power of attorney documents and health care directives) well-organized and in appropriate locations accessibility-wise. If a person's estate planning documents are disorganized, spread out all over the place and in locations where they are very difficult to access, it can make it very difficult for such documents to be tracked down and collected when incapacity or death occurs. This could potentially compromise one of the goals of estate planning, which is to help certain processes go more smoothly when incapacity or death happens.
Another thing that can possibly comprise this goal is when the right people don't know where the estate planning documents are. Thus, another thing it can be important for a person to do after their estate plan has been set up is to let the appropriate people (people that could be on this list include family members, loved ones and one's doctors) know where these estate planning documents can be found, so these individuals know where to look when the time comes that these documents need to be accessed.
Another thing it can be important for an individual to do with their estate plan after it is set up is to regularly review it and to update it when appropriate, to ensure it stays in-sync with what they actually want. Attorneys can help individuals who feel that their estate plan no longer accurately matches their desires with making appropriate updates to their estate planning documents.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "Checklist for updating, organizing estate planning documents," Janet Kidd Stewart, April 27, 2015