As you begin your journey to estate planning, there are five essential documents that are part of estate planning. These are documents that many of us have heard of at one time or another, but when put together they form a solid foundation for an estate plan.
- Last Will and Testament
This is probably the most common. Your last will and testament includes who will serve as the executor of your estate as well as what power over your estate they will have. Your will also names your beneficiaries and what each beneficiary shall inherit. The will also carries out your wishes as it comes to when and how assets will be distributed. If you have minor children, your Last Will and Testament will name their guardian.
- Living Trust
A living trust is created during your lifetime and also known as a revocable trust, meaning you can change it at any time during your lifetime. This allows you to transfer your assets without going through probate. There is no threshold size and it is more popular for those with large estates. It is the duty of the trustee to transfer assets to beneficiaries upon your death.
- Durable Power Of Attorney
This is also known as a POA giving someone the ability to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated. You can name more than one person so you have a backup should something happen to the primary agent. You can also limit the authority of the agent to only specific duties.
- Medical Power of Attorney
This is very similar to the Durable Power of Attorney where you assign an agent, or even a primary and a back up. But this is only in regards to your medical needs and wishes. The important thing to remember when choosing a medical power of attorney is that when it comes to them needing to make that very important decision, that they will be able to carry out your wishes and put their own feelings aside.
- Living Will
A living will is also known as an advanced directive. This is used should you become incapacitated and may need life sustaining treatments. This is something that is drawn up ahead of time as to not have loved ones make this decision for you. Imagine being in an accident, having no chance at recovery due to a brain injury. You don’t want extraordinary measures taken and to be on life support forever. Your family members don’t need to make decisions for you, you have that set up already with a living will.
These are a few documents you need to become familiar with as you begin your estate planning journey. Contact one of our knowledgeable estate planning attorneys to discuss your future estate planning needs today.