Estate Planning Checklist: 5 Must-Have Documents

Estate Planning

Estate planning often reflects a person’s life with the assets they own and the beneficiaries they choose. Over the years, these things keep changing as your assets increase and your beneficiaries change.

Throughout life, a person keeps updating estate planning, but the documents required for estate planning will always remain the same.

So, for a smooth transfer of assets, here is the checklist of 5 must-have documents for estate planning.

Last Will & Testament

The starting point or the foundation of any estate plan is the last will and testament. It is crucial because it dictates how your assets should be distributed when you pass away. 

It ensures your assets are transferred as per your wish after you die. It includes your physical assets like real estate and possessions and intangible ones like bank, investment accounts, and insurance policies. You also choose a guardian of your minor kids and pets, also an executor to carry out any last wish if you have. It can all be done with the help of a will and trust attorney.

Living Will

A living will is a legal document that states certain scenarios where a certain medical condition makes you incapable of drafting the last will and testament. It states what happens to your assets and wishes after you die without a will after a health condition prevents you from creating one. 

It helps in a smooth transfer of property without the need to go through probate court proceedings. It makes the entire process easier and minimizes the confusion and pressure on your beneficiaries and loved ones, as you have already documented everything. 

Durable Power Of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a very important aspect of estate planning. It is a document designed to designate an agent or individual who will act on your behalf to make significant real estate, financial, business, or legal decisions when you are incapable of doing so due to a medical condition or death. 

In most cases, people name their spouse or someone in their family, a friend, or an advisor capable of handling business decisions, as you are not limited to naming your spouse or family members. The agent or designated person acts on your behalf and makes crucial decisions to ensure the business stays afloat. That is why choosing someone with business acumen is important rather than someone solely based on relationship or closeness. 

Medical Power Of Attorney

A healthcare power of attorney (HCPA) designates another person to act on your behalf to make healthcare decisions for you in case of your incapacity. For such a document, you need to choose someone you wholeheartedly trust and share the same mindset, as they will have your life in their hands in the most literal sense. The medical POA will step in when you are incapacitated, be it from a medical condition or accident. Choosing an agent can save you and your loved ones from many hassles. Also, have a backup agent if the first one is unavailable to perform their duties. 

Beneficiary Designations

Without a beneficiary, a court can decide how to distribute your assets and investments. That is why it is important to clearly state beneficiary designations to avoid the situation above from arising. 

If the beneficiary cannot serve or has died, it will be up to the court to decide the fate of your tangible and intangible assets. The court doesn’t know you personally, so their chances of making the right decisions on your behalf seem highly unlikely. 

Final Words

These are five of the most crucial documents in estate planning that you cannot ignore at any cost. Hiring a professional Will and Trust Attorney is very important for smoother estate planning. It is necessary to plan ahead to avoid any confusion or stress among your loved ones after your passing. So, call a professional probate lawyer and leave your worries behind.

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