While many people begin their estate planning journey with a will, a comprehensive estate plan may involve many different documents. What documents should you consider when creating your estate plan?
Wills address all property solely in your name at your passing.
The last will and testament is often the first document that people create for their estate plan. This document allows you to create a plan for the property that you own as well as naming a guardian for your children.
Trusts manage property distribution without probate.
Many people who choose to supplement their will with a trust do so because it will help them achieve their unique goals. The benefits of a trust can include:
- Keeping assets in trust private
- Minimize the costs and time associated with probate
- Preventing the funds placed in trust from being subject to lawsuits or divorce proceedings
- Protecting the benefits of beneficiaries who receive disability support
Financial powers of attorney allow someone to make decisions on your behalf.
Your estate plan can protect more than your legacy—it can also protect your health and finances if illness or injury leaves you unable to make important decisions yourself. Financial powers of attorney allow your chosen representative to pay taxes, manage your investments and make other important financial decisions.
A health care proxy and other documents provide guidance for your care.
A health care proxy, sometimes called medical power of attorney, allows you choose to select your healthcare provider, guide your treatment plan and make decisions about other aspects of your treatment. You may also want to consider a living will to outline your wishes for live-saving care or a HIPAA release form to allow your healthcare providers to share information with specific people.
Additional documents can simplify the days after someone’s passing.
Depending on the needs of your family, you may want to include supplemental documents with your estate plan. These documents can include:
- A letter of intent to outline your funeral wishes or important personal information
- A list of your accounts and related passwords
- Important legal documents like marriage or divorce records
Collecting these important documents can ensure that your loved ones are able to find important information without your guidance.
When creating your estate plan, you may want to speak to an attorney. They can help you explore the options that will achieve your estate planning goals and protect your legacy.