The following are the most common and basic estate planning documents. If you don’t have them, plan now to get them. If you do have them but it has been several years since they were updated, update them now. If you don’t have properly drawn-up documents, your family members will have great difficulty in planning the disposition of your property in an orderly, lower-cost manner in case you become incapacitated or die.
A Will provides for distribution of property you own at the time of your death in any manner you choose, subject to state limitations. A Guardian is someone you name in your will to care for your children in case something happens to both parents. Trusts are created to hold, own, control and allocate property now, or as most people do after they die. Trusts can be particularly helpful if distributing assets to several people and over a period of time, with conditions. They can also help your survivors avoid some parts and expenses of probate court. They can also provide creditor protection and privacy. A Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney help if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. A Durable Power of Attorney grants legal authority to a trusted person to handle your finances and property if you become incapacitated and unable to handle your own affairs. This is just a brief list of the documents and concepts; talk about these and more with your attorney, including letters of instruction and the organization and storage of important papers.