Documents Every Person Needs for Estate Planning
Is Estate Planning on your priority list? A common misconception about estate planning is that it is only necessary if you have a big estate, many assets, or a complicated family situation.
The reality is, estate planning ensures that decisions that would be difficult to make in the moment are made in advance to make things easier in the future.
By making these decisions in advance and setting them out in writing or in some other way, you can ensure that the wishes of you or a loved one are preserved and that there is a concrete plan for what happens if someone needs to make a decision on your behalf after you die.
Estate planning also governs what comes next after you die, from what happens to your property to how your funeral will be handled. At its core, estate planning is giving yourself the peace of mind that the people you leave behind will know what to do and will be taken care of, a concept that is very comforting for many. This can be part of your Retirement Planning Checklist.
Estate Planning Documents
A number of legal documents must be prepared as a part of the estate plan. It is important that these documents are prepared correctly to ensure that your intent is reflected, that nothing slips through the cracks, and of course, that your will and other related documents are validly executed so you do not die intestate.
When Preparing for Retirement with estate planning, there are generally three main documents that attorneys advise families to prepare: A will, a durable power of attorney, and a healthcare power of attorney with a living will component. These three documents allow others to legally act for you, which is a powerful, invaluable tool when it comes to managing your end-of-life affairs.
- A will is a legal document that tells readers your wishes after your death, from the distribution of your property to the management of your estate to your intentions for how your children will be raised, in some situations.
- While, in some states the law recognizes handwritten/holographic wills, working with a seasoned estate planner or attorney will ensure that your estate is distributed exactly as you would like it to be.
- Some wills benefit from the inclusion of specialized clauses that allow for others to act on behalf of the estate, which can come in handy if the language of a will is unclear or if the way a certain property is set to be distributed is impracticable.
- For example, wills can include a power of sale provision, which allows the executor of the estate to sell a given property and distribute the funds among the will’s beneficiaries.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- A healthcare power of attorney is a legal document that allows an established person to make healthcare decisions on the behalf of another.
- This kind of estate planning document is particularly helpful in situations where you or a loved one are unable to make healthcare decisions on your own behalf, like if you are in a medically induced coma or experience a lack of capacity.
- A living will is often part of the healthcare power of attorney document. The living will expresses what a person wants, while the healthcare power of attorney states who is authorized to be a decisionmaker.
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Durable power of attorney is similar to the healthcare power of attorney but is much broader. Durable power of attorney allows a person to entrust another with virtually all legal decisions.
- Someone who has durable power of attorney can make healthcare and financial decisions and even sign legal documents on behalf of another in the event that the person who gave them the power is incapacited or otherwise cannot act on their own behalf.
- Power of attorney is a powerful tool to entrust someone with, and can be used to make changes and allow access to bank accounts, various assets, and even change the beneficiaries of a will or similar legal document.
With the help of these three key estate planning documents, you can feel confident that your loved ones will be taken care of and that it will be as simple as possible for your wishes to be respected after you die.
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