Estate Planning Considerations

Basic Estate Planning Documents

The first tool that you will need in your estate plan is a will. A will is a formal legal document that is submitted to the court after you die, which states what you want to happen at your death. A well-constructed will is the cornerstone of your estate planning. Make sure your will reflects your current status, the status of your heirs, and the amount of your current estate. Other important documents you will need to round out your estate plan include a Letter of Instruction, a Durable Power of Attorney, a Medical Durable Power of Attorney, and a Living Will.

Important Legal Documents

Will: A document dictating how assets are to be divided when an individual dies, which names a person who will supervise the distribution.

Letter of Instruction: A document that lists important financial and other information to be used to help those who are helping you when you are incapacitated or die.

Durable Power of Attorney: A document you sign that appoints someone (an agent) to make financial decisions you. Although the powers the agent receives become effective immediately, this document is usually used only in cases where you become incapacitated.

Medical Durable Power of Attorney: Similar to a durable power of attorney, but applies specifically to health care decisions. It allows you to appoint someone (a health care agent) to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

Living Will: A document that states your preference for extraordinary medical treatment if you have no hope of recovering.

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