When it comes to caring for your family, one of the most important matters you should undertake is proper estate planning. Some may believe that estate planning is only necessary for those who have a lot of money and assets to contend with. If you do not have an estate plan, no matter how significant your assets, you can leave your family in a bind upon your death.
Part of estate planning is gathering important documents. As you build your estate plan with your attorney, the following documents are necessary to ensure nothing is left undone once you pass away:
Many confuse estate planning and wills as the same thing. A will is just one part of your estate plan. A will is used to ensure your property is distributed based on your wishes once you pass away.
A trust is an important legal tool that can do many things. There are several different types of trusts that have various purposes. Some trusts you can utilize while you are still alive. These are referred to as living trusts. They hold your assets for your beneficiaries and are dealt with by a trustee of your choosing should you no longer be able to make decisions for yourself. Other trusts have limitations on them, such as the age of the beneficiary at the time of disbursement of the assets. If you have any trusts, be sure to let your attorney know.
Your Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a crucial part of your estate plan. You actually need to have power of attorney in place while you are alive. A power of attorney allows a person to act on your behalf should you become unable to make decisions for yourself. If you do not have a power of attorney, the courts have to figure out your asset distribution.
With a power of attorney, your agent can make financial decisions. You may want a separate power of attorney to act as an agent for your medical decisions. This is a matter to discuss with your attorney.
If you intend to leave your estate to any beneficiaries, you need to include them in your estate plan. Your beneficiaries not only can inherit your personal property but can also inherit your retirement and insurance plans. Be sure to keep these updated as you experience major life changes, such as the birth of children or the death of direct family members.
Your Letter of Intent
Your letter of intent explains any specific instructions for the executor of your estate. Your letter can include details regarding your funeral wishes, dispersing of certain assets, and the like.
Your Guardianship Information
If you have minor children or any other dependents, you must choose a guardian for them in the event of your death. This is crucial, particularly if you are not married or have a partner who will care for the children or dependents upon your death.
Reach out to a local family lawyer to learn more about these documents.
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