When it comes to estate planning, people often focus on what is needed when you pass away. However, there are some key documents you do not want to go without in your lifetime, according to nwi.com in “Estate Planning: 3 important estate planning docs, and 2 maybes.” A key focus of the article is that everyone should have a POA, a Will, and an Advanced Medical Directive (including a Living Will).
How many times have you heard the story about someone’s aging mom becoming disabled and financial institutions asking if she has a POA? The problem is we are so reluctant to ask mom about a POA that we tend to neglect this difficult conversation. Then, when we are faced with an emergency, it is too late.
An Advance Directive and Living Will are equally important to have in advance of a medical emergency. Among other things, with these documents in place to provide instructions for when you are terminally ill, you will have had the opportunity to state your wishes regarding medical care in advance.
The third must-have estate planning document is a Will. Simply stated, the Will is the document where you tell your heirs exactly how you want your assets distributed. If you have children who are not yet of legal age, you should also name a Guardian for them in your Will.
Another important estate planning document is a Trust. There are many different types of Trusts, and they all serve different purposes and achieve different goals. Among other things, Trusts are used to protect assets. An experienced estate planning attorney would be able to advise you on whether you should have a Trust. Trusts are complex, and you will want to get one that best fits your needs.
Another document is called a “letter of instruction.” This is a set of directions that you leave to your family that tells them what you would like to happen. It is not legally binding, so it falls into the “maybe” document category. However, you may find it satisfying to put down on paper what you would like them to know, what you would like them to remember, etc. If you want to dictate your funeral, memorial services and the like, work with an estate planning attorney to execute a funeral planning declaration, which can be legally enforced.
An experienced estate planning attorney can advise you in creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances and is specific to the laws of your state of residence.
Reference: nwi.com (Nov. 25, 2018) “Estate Planning: 3 important estate planning docs, and 2 maybes”