What Are the Estate Planning Documents You Need to Have?

Monday, October 10, 2022


About 67% of Americans do not have an estate plan; are you one of them? People don't want to think about estate planning because it involves death. However, estate planning is vital for ensuring your loved ones have an easier time once you have passed.

Start your plan by ensuring you have these estate planning documents prepared.

Last Will and Testament

A last will is the most well-known document in estate planning. It's the document that outlines your funeral wishes and memorial desires. For many, this means doing real estate lawyer estate planning, but it can include many more types of assets.

It should settle outstanding debts, outline the closing out of financial accounts, and designate guardianship for minor children or pets. In addition, having this document will help your estate avoid the expensive and lengthy probate process.

Beneficiary Designations

The beneficiary designations are typically what people think of when they think about a will. However, this document is a specific part of your estate plan that outlines how externally held accounts get handled. It is helpful to ensure accounts get automatically transferred and bypass probate.

This typically occurs with investment, insurance, and retirement accounts. The company that holds the account will allow you to fill out a beneficiary destination. This document helps loved ones remain financially stable during a difficult and emotional time.

Revocable Living Trust

When you have a trust, you transfer all ownership of your assets into the trust. Then you can name a beneficiary that will gain ownership upon your passing. You can be the trustee and manage the assets as long as you name a beneficiary.

A revocable trust differs from an irrevocable one because you can change the terms at any time during your life. Once in place, a revocable trust will speed up the distribution of your assets. A trust also keeps your estate plan private because it won't be entered into the public record the way a will is.

Advanced Healthcare Directive

This document outlines your medical decisions when you can no longer effectively communicate them. The most common type of advanced directive is a do not resuscitate directive. It's helpful to work with an estate planning attorney when creating this document.

It typically addresses many scenarios, requiring you to think about many possibilities. However, completing it will provide valuable guidance to medical professionals and your family. Not only does this ensure you receive the care you desire, but it also takes the stress off of your loved ones during an emotional time.

Power of Attorney

There may come a time when you can no longer manage your medical, financial, or other important life decisions. When this day comes, you need someone you trust to make these decisions for you. A power of attorney ensures that someone you can depend on is making those decisions.

There are several types of power of attorney documents. It is best to speak with an estate planning attorney while preparing this document to ensure you give only the power you intend.

Gather Your Estate Planning Documents

If you do not have these crucial estate planning documents, then there is no better time than the present to get started. Start by gathering your asset and debt documentation. Then schedule an appointment with an estate planning attorney to discuss your wishes and prepare your documents.

Schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys to discuss your estate plan.



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