What types of documents should I include in my estate plan?
Estate planning is designed to help get the estate planner prepared for the disposition of their property, incapacity and to help make sure their loved ones will be taken care of. As a result, it is helpful for estate planners to understand the different estate planning tools available to help them create a personalized estate plan that will address those concerns and needs.
Several different estate planning documents should be included as part of an overall estate plan. No two estate plans are exactly the same so estate planners should understand what they need to protect themselves and their loved ones and how their estate plan can address their specific needs. To begin with, an estate plan should have a will unless, in some circumstances, the estate planner wishes to use a trust instead. A trust can be used on its own or to compliment a will and there are different types of trusts to consider. A will is used to distribute the estate planner’s property and assets.
Additionally, a complete estate plan should include an advance healthcare directive or living will. An advance healthcare directive includes the estate planner’s wishes for their medical care and treatment if they become incapacitated and are unable to direct it for themselves. It can also designate a trusted individual to direct the estate planner’s medical care if they cannot. A power of attorney document should also be included in an estate plan and, similarly, helps when the estate planner is incapacitated and cannot direct their financial affairs for themselves. A power of attorney can designate a trusted individual to handle the estate planner’s financial affairs when they are unable to do so.
An effective estate plan that meets the needs and goals of the estate planner can provide important peace of mind during a challenging time for the estate planner and their family and loved ones. Knowing how to craft an estate plan that is best for the estate planner requires familiarity with the different types of estate planning tools available to help them do that.