Thinking ahead and planning for the future includes estate planning. Estate planning can help estate planners ensure they are cared for if they are unable to care for themselves at any point and also ensure their loved ones are cared for when they are gone. To accomplish this, there are several important documents estate planners should consider including in their estate plan.
Important documents to consider including in an estate plan
- A will: a will is a cornerstone of an estate plan and ensures the estate planner’s financial resources and possessions are distributed according to their wishes to those they want to benefit from them. State law will determine who gets the estate planner’s property without a will which makes having one important. Part of a will also includes naming a guardian to care for the estate planner’s minor children.
- A trust: a trust allows the estate planner to transfer money and assets into a trust to be managed by a trustee they select for the benefit of their beneficiaries. Utilizing a trust can also help minimize probate which can be valuable for estate planners and their families.
- A power of attorney: if the estate planner is disabled temporarily or permanently, a durable power of attorney allows a designated individual to make financial decisions for the estate planner. The designated power of attorney can manage the estate planner’s financial assets, file the estate planner’s taxes and conduct real estate transactions on behalf of the estate planner.
- If it is a power of attorney for healthcare, the designated individual can make healthcare decisions for the estate planner if they are incapacitated.
- Advance medical directive or living will: an advance healthcare directive can outline the estate planner’s preferences for medical care. The estate planner can specify the medical interventions they want to receive or do not want to receive.
Estate planners should ensure they have a comprehensive estate plan that includes all the components needed to help protect them and their families. Estate planning is not one size fits all which is why estate planners should know how they can make the best estate plan for them.