A few of the basic estate planning documents every adult should have include a will, power of attorney and health care proxy. For many people, a revocable living trust is also important and useful to carry out their estate planning objectives and goals. Whether you are a college student, single, a newly married couple, new parents, divorced, retiring or approaching the end of your life, estate planning is important and may be one of the most wonderful gifts that you give to your loved ones if you become incapacitated or when you pass away. What type of estate planning tools are used depends on each unique situation. However, there are a few documents that are absolutely critical to an estate plan.
A will instructs your executor to pay any debts, and determine where any remaining assets go. A will is especially critical, if you have minor children. In your will, you can nominate guardians for your young children. Guardians are the people you trust to raise your children in the event that neither you or your spouse can do so.
WROC’s article entitled “Why now is the right time for an estate plan” also explains that a power of attorney is a document that gives authority to your agent to act on your behalf.
The agent can act on your behalf and assume the responsibility of paying your bills and maintaining your household, if you were to become incapacitated. When a person dies, a power of attorney is no longer valid.
The other document is a health care power of attorney. In this document you designate a person as your health care proxy to make medical decisions on your behalf, if you aren’t able to make decisions yourself. This includes decisions about whether to undergo surgery or to terminate life support.
Review your beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and your estate planning documents every few years or when there is a life event, such as a death, birth, marriage, or divorce.
See an experienced estate planning attorney about drafting these documents.
Reference: WROC (Sep. 20, 2021) “Why now is the right time for an estate plan”