4 Must-Have Documents for Estate Planning

A comprehensive estate plan includes four estate planning documents: a will, financial power of attorney, advance care directive, and living trust.

4 Must-Have Documents for Estate Planning

A comprehensive estate plan is essential for ensuring that your wishes are met and that your loved ones can navigate the process smoothly. It includes four estate planning documents: a will, financial power of attorney, advance care directive, and living trust. A will is the best known of these documents. It ensures that your financial resources and possessions are inherited by the people you want to benefit.

Without a will, your state's legal system decides who your legitimate heirs are, and they may not be the people you would choose. In a will, you also name your executor. This is the person or persons who will be responsible for carrying out the desired distribution of assets and assets. Make sure the person you name is willing and able to take on that role.

Being an executor is hard work and requires great responsibility. A living will is actually quite different from a last will and a will. This is a document that tells doctors, medical professionals and family members what treatments you want if you are dying, are permanently unconscious, or if you are unable to make decisions about emergency care. It has nothing to do with age; adults of all ages can benefit from having these wishes explained. While a living will may include an exhaustive checklist on the types of treatments you would like to consider, it is difficult for a checklist to be complete or to interpret the nuances.

To that end, it is vital to have a durable power of attorney for health care. This legal document allows you to designate a health care proxy who is empowered to talk to your doctors, access your health care information, and make medical decisions about your care, if you cannot do it yourself. A health care proxy is also responsible for determining which hospital, medical facility, nursing home, or hospice facility to send you to for care. Upon death, a will is presented publicly, but it may also include a letter of instructions, which is private and not legally binding. This letter conveys any thoughts and desires you want your loved ones to know. End-of-Life Planning Doesn't Just Refer to Death.

It also applies to any circumstance that may make it difficult for you to take care of yourself. A durable power of attorney document designates a person to put themselves in your financial situation if you have a mental or physical disability, either temporarily or permanently. The authority granted in a permanent power of attorney ends with the death of the person who granted it. Many people have preferences about the type of medical care they would like to receive (or not receive) before they die. An advance medical directive allows a person to describe medical wishes regarding medical interventions.

You can't avoid their pain, but you can make their lives easier by planning ahead and outlining all the logistical steps they'll need to take. A trust is an incredibly powerful document that can be a big help. You stay in control of all your finances as long as you want and you can make changes to your trust as often as you want. These five documents (sometimes four, when advance directives and power of attorney for health care are combined) help you live a happier and less stressful life, knowing that you have taken the necessary steps to make navigating tomorrow as easy as possible. These documents are part of his legacy.

By making your intentions clear and facilitating the inheritance process as much as you can, you are taking care of your family. Start with an advance directive here. Chances are there are one or two important documents that you know you should have, but you haven't succeeded yet. It can be your will or a living will.

See how many of the following 10 essential documents you have in your possession and take action where you haven't already set up. Living Will and Proxy for Health CareThese are two different forms, but they have similar purposes. A living will expresses your preferences for treatments in case you are unable to make such decisions on your own. If you prefer not to stay alive by extraordinary means for more than a month, for example, you can make those wishes known.

In the same way, if you want your life to be extended by any available means, as long as possible, no matter what your state. A health care proxy form gives someone else the power to make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Many hospitals provide these forms free of charge. Unless you want the state you live in to decide what happens to your estate, it's important to have a will.

If your situation is fairly straightforward, you may be able to create one quickly and inexpensively with software like Quicken's WillMaker Plus. However, it's often smarter to consult a professional about your situation to make sure all your wishes are met and that your will complies with your state's laws. A lawyer can easily prepare a will for you, often for just a few hundred dollars. No one plans to get sick, but people of all ages can get too sick to make their own medical and health care decisions.

The Power of Attorney for Health Care....

Duane Meno
Duane Meno

Amateur zombie geek. Avid coffee aficionado. Proud web trailblazer. Unapologetic food guru. Incurable pop culture evangelist.

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