4 Estate Planning Documents You Need to Know

Estate planning documents are written legal documents that help ensure your wishes are carried out, and your family is taken care of in the event of your demise. 

These documents can be complex and intimidating, so it’s important to understand what they are and why they are important.

But, perhaps, hiring the right estate planning lawyer is more important in dealing with these affairs. They’ll help you formulate your documents, and of course, make sure nothing goes against your wishes.

Who are Estate Planning Lawyers?

Estate planning attorneys are highly-qualified legal professionals who specialize in helping clients set up, maintain and execute estate plans according to the client’s wishes. 

These attorneys factor in a client’s inheritance and legacy intentions, as well as any tax arrangements that may arise for their beneficiaries. They also review existing documents, such as wills and trusts to ensure that all information is accurate.

Furthermore, Estate Planning Lawyers provide strategic guidance for investing and protecting assets, allowing them to develop customized plans tailored to each client’s needs and wishes.

In cases where there’s disagreement from family members or disputes over how assets will be settled in the event of the owner’s demise, an experienced estate planning lawyer can provide invaluable advice on how to proceed with solving the issue. 

Estate planning isn’t only limited to obtaining a will or creating trust documents; having an experienced lawyer on hand is integral to ensuring financial stability after a person passes away.

The 4 Estate Planning Documents You Must Know

Here is a brief overview of the various types of estate planning documents you should know about. 

  1. Last Will and Testament 

A last will and testament is an important document that offers a degree of control and protection when it comes to the distribution of one’s estate upon demise. Here are some key points to consider when drafting a last will and testament: 

Purpose

The purpose of a last will and testament is for an individual to specify the distribution of his or her estate (property, assets, liabilities, etc.) after demise. This document allows individuals to have decisions about their legacy carried out in accordance with their wishes. 

Language 

A last will and testament must include specific language, as well as certain signatures from witnesses or other officials, in order for it to be legally valid, depending on the jurisdiction where it was created. For example, most states require two witnesses or a notarized signature for the will to be valid in probate court proceedings. 

Designated Guardianship

In addition to stating how one’s assets should be distributed upon demise, a last will and testament can also designate guardianship of any minor children who are still living at the time of demise.

Other provisions may include instructions regarding funeral arrangements, end-of-life medical care decisions, and more, depending on the particular wishes of the testator (the creator of the will). 

Thorough Research

Writing a last will and testament requires thorough research into local laws as well as careful consideration of all aspects related to estate planning before putting pen to paper. 

It is highly recommended that individuals enlist professional legal advice when creating their wills, so they can be certain that all aspects have been addressed properly according to state law requirements. 

  1. Living Trusts 

A living trust provides an efficient and effective way to protect your estate in the case of incapacity, demise, or any other unexpected event.

It can be used to pass on assets without the hassles of probate court, which often requires costly fees and significant processing times. 

With a living trust, you can also appoint a trustee to manage the included assets for you. This is particularly important if you become unable to make responsible decisions due to health-related issues or age. 

Living trusts help ensure that your wishes, as set forth in the document, are followed and allow you to decide who receives your estate when you pass on.

Ultimately, they provide peace of mind that your hard work will benefit those closest to you in accordance with your final wishes.

  1. Power of Attorney 

Power of attorney is a legal document that can be used to plan your estate. It allows you to appoint someone, known as the ‘agent’, to act as your legal representative — in order to manage your financial or personal affairs if you are unable, or unwilling, to do so.

Depending on the circumstances that gave rise to this need, the powers may be valid for a specific period of time, or until revoked. 

Generally speaking, if you authorize power of attorney, you will have a say in the types of actions and decisions that the agent has authority over.

This might include becoming legally responsible for collecting income on behalf of another, managing investment accounts, and paying bills. Power of attorney also enables an individual to make arrangements regarding their disability or long-term care while they still retain some control over their finances and property. 

The best way to ensure proper execution is to involve an experienced power of attorney lawyer who can help explain your rights as well as advise on how best to structure the appointment for all parties involved.

As it remains one of several essential documents related to estate planning, it pays to take proper steps when creating a power of attorney agreement.

  1. Living Will 

A living will is an important estate planning document that provides guidance for when you become unable to make your own decisions.

It outlines certain wishes for medical care and directs your family and healthcare providers on how to manage your care when you become incapable due to illness or incapacity. 

This document is especially important in sibling-inheritance cases, as it can override sibling inheritance laws that might otherwise be in effect. 

The living will state a clear intent of what the individual’s wishes are concerning medical care and access to resources such as finances and property, so it is important to consult an attorney when creating this document.

Doing so ensures that the individual’s assets end up in the right hands and that their wishes are respected if they become unable to make their own decisions.

Conclusion

Estate planning documents can seem intimidating at first, but they are essential for ensuring that your wishes are followed upon your demise or if you become unable to make decisions for yourself due to illness or incapacity.

Having these essential documents in place can provide peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of and that your wishes will be honored when needed most. Taking the steps now to create these documents can save time, money, and stress down the line when they might otherwise be needed most.

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