It may not be that pleasant to think about your estate plan, and you may be tempted to put it off until a future date. However, planning your estate is crucial if you want to control who gets your property when you die and who takes care of you if you are physically or mentally incapacitated and unable to do this for yourself. Here are five important documents that help to create a comprehensive estate plan.
Document #1: Last Will and Testament
Your last will and testament is an essential document in your estate plan. This is the document where you can state exactly how you want your assets divided after your death and appoint a person whom you trust to be the executor of your estate and to distribute your property according to your will. You can also appoint a guardian for your minor children, create a special needs trust for disabled children or other family members that you want to provide for, and more.
Document #2: Living Will
In your living will, you inform your family and doctors of the medical treatment you want if you are too incapacitated to communicate your wishes. You can also appoint a person to make your medical decisions in accordance with your living will on your behalf if you are unconscious or otherwise unable to do this for yourself.
Document #3: Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney allows another person to manage your finances if you are too ill to do so. When making financial decisions, they must do so according to your wishes and any restrictions you set in your power of attorney. Having a financial power of attorney enables someone you trust to take care of your financial matters without the need to go to court to be appointed your conservator.
Document #4: Living Trust
Depending on your situation, you may want a living trust in addition to a last will and testament to designate how you want your property distributed after your death and to meet your special family concerns. It can also be a way to avoid the costs of probating your estate and reduce estate taxes.
Document #5: Beneficiary Designations
You may be able to complete a beneficiary form to designate whom you want to receive your life insurance, retirement accounts, stocks, mutual funds, and other financial assets. If you do this, these assets will transfer to your beneficiary outside of your will or living trust after your death. It is important to keep your beneficiary designations in a safe place with your will and other estate planning documents.
Do you need to develop your estate plan? Let our experienced estate planning attorneys walk you through the process of creating a comprehensive estate plan so that you and your family are protected during your life and after you die. Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation today.