If you are preparing to create an estate plan for the first time, it’s important to include all of the most essential estate planning documents and directives in your plan.
Your attorney will guide you carefully through the process to ensure you address all of your wishes. But you may want to learn about the most important estate planning documents before you begin the process. This will give you a better idea of what to expect as you plan your estate.
What is an Estate Plan?
Here are a few examples of some of these essential documents in an estate plan.
- Will: A will allows you to determine what will happen to all of your assets upon your death. It also allows you to name an executor who will carry out all of the instructions you leave behind in your will, to name guardians for any minor children or pets you leave behind and to include provisions for your funeral. Without a will, the probate court will name a personal representative to distribute assets according to state law.
- Living trust: A revocable living trust is an extremely useful tool to pass assets to heirs without having to go through the lengthy and expensive probate process. With a living trust, you name a trustee (a close friend, family member or spouse, for example) to manage your property, which can be distributed now or after your death. Any assets passed into the trust will bypass probate and are technically owned by the trust.
- Durable power of attorney: This document grants another person (your “agent”) the power to act on your behalf for financial and legal decisions if you are unable to do so yourself due to incapacitation.
- Healthcare power of attorney and advance directives: Healthcare power of attorney grants your chosen agent the power to act on your behalf for medical decisions when you are unable to do so. This document will typically be paired with a living will or other advance directives. They specify the types of care you do or do not wish to receive in certain circumstances. These documents make the healthcare agent’s job a bit easier as they will have some instructions to work with.
- Beneficiary designations: Designating your beneficiaries may be done separate from the documents you create with your attorney. They are an important part of your overall estate plan. Certain types of bank, retirement, and investment accounts, as well as life insurance policies, allow you to name a beneficiary who will receive the proceeds from the account or policy upon your death. You should keep information about beneficiary designations with your estate planning documents and be sure to review and update them when you review and update the rest of your estate plan.
Contact Baker Law Group P.C.
For more information about the most important documents to include in your estate plan, contact an experienced estate planning attorney at Baker Law Group.
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