The 6 Must-Have Documents for Your Estate Plan

There are six important documents you need in your estate plan. These documents give you peace of mind, knowing that your legal affairs are in order. They can also save you money in the long run and reduce the anxiety of your loved ones.

  1. Last Will and Testament. The Will is a cornerstone of any estate plan. In one of my recent blog posts, I listed 10 reasons you need a Will, such as the ability to determine who will inherit your assets and nominating your Executor. While a Will is a must-have, there are other documents which are also very important.
  2. Revocable Living Trust. A Living Trust can accomplish many goals and is typically set up to provide for you during your lifetime and distribute your assets after your death. As a result, it gives you the ability to control your assets, even after your death. It has many other potential benefits, such as avoiding probate, providing for your spouse and children, protecting your assets from your beneficiaries' creditors, and giving you the ability to schedule trust distributions.
  3. General Durable Power of Attorney. A GDPOA is very important because it allows someone (your agent or "attorney-in-fact") to help you with your finances if you become unable to do so. It does not take away your right to handle your own financial affairs, like a guardianship does. As I explained in a previous blog post, you must choose your agent wisely because he/she can use this document to rob you blind.
  4. Health Care Power of Attorney. You will make your own health care decisions as long as you are able to do so. If you become unable to do so, however, your agent will step in and make those decisions for you.
  5. Living Will. I like to call this your end-of-life declaration. It tells your doctor what your wishes are if you ever become permanently unconscious or have a terminal condition.
  6. Appointment of Representative for Funeral and/or Burial Arrangements. In Ohio, you can legally appoint someone to be in charge of your funeral and burial. This appointment trumps the rights of even your surviving spouse and children to make your arrangements if you prefer to have someone else in charge.

Each of these documents should be drafted specifically for you and your estate planning goals. Your should consult with an experienced attorney who can craft the right estate plan for you.

Maria has been helping clients with their estate planning needs for 20 years. Please contact her to schedule a consultation.

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