Studies report that more than half of Americans do not have essential estate documents prepared in the event they become too incapacitated to make decisions or pass away. For most people, thinking about the worst case scenario or death might seem depressing and something to avoid. However, it is up to us to provide a plan of what should happen. Because, if you don’t make a plan, the state will make a plan for you. The following are the four documents that everyone needs as a part of their estate plan.
- Last Will and Testament
A will is probably the most well-known estate planning document. This document is used after death. It is an outline of what you would like to be done with your assets and possessions after death. You can name a guardian for your children, leave specific items to specific people, make donations to charity, and even state your preferred funeral arrangements. A will allows you peace of mind that your loved ones will be taken care of after your death and provides your loved ones a sort of instruction book to follow during the difficult time of dealing with death.
- Durable Power of Attorney
Estate planning documents are not just for after death. In fact, there are many documents that can be executed that might be useful during your lifetime. A general durable power of attorney gives another the power to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to make those decisions yourself. If the power of attorney is done right, your agent can make financial decisions, sell real estate, and even manage individual bank accounts.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
The healthcare power of attorney gives another the agency to act on behalf of you and make medical and healthcare decisions should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions. This is an important document to have prepared because there is no telling when an accident will happen to incapacitate an individual. With this power of attorney already created, you know that your medical decisions are in the hands of someone you trust.
- Medical Directive
While you can appoint someone to make healthcare decisions for you, it is also important to have an advanced directive. This document is known as a “living will.” It is your opportunity to state your wishes for care at the end of your life. Decisions on whether to have life-prolonging procedures done, what to do if you are in a vegetative state, and many others can be specified in the directive so your wishes are known and carried out.
Work with a Qualified Estate Planning Lawyer
The above is not a comprehensive list of all estate planning documents. Every person’s situation is different, and the estate plan must be curated to the needs of the individual. The estate planning attorneys at Beers Mallers Backs & Salin, LLP are here to help get the right documents prepared for you. Contact us today.