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Basic Estate Planning Documents

October 5, 2012

There are three basic estate planning documents that all individuals should consider when making a life plan strategy. The specific content of each document will depend on personal and family circumstances, but, everyone should consider having the following documents in place:

Last Will and Testament – A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that includes your personal instructions regarding the distributions of your assets upon your death. The preparation of a Will allows you to designate the beneficiaries of your estate. Your Will may also name a person to serve as executor of your estate.

A Will may also name a guardian for any minor children and designate the age when the children will receive their inheritance. Parents of a child with disabilities can also express their preference relative to their child’s future care, education, job training and living arrangements and even establish a trust to supplement governmental benefits received by the disabled child.

Power of Attorney – A Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an agent to make decisions concerning your legal and financial matters in the event you cannot do so for yourself. If something catastrophic happens and you become incapacitated, having a Power of Attorney in place can avoid the alternative of having a Court appoint a guardian, this could take several months and cost several thousand dollars.

Health Care Proxy / Living Will – A Health Care Proxy/Living Will allows you to designate an agent to make health care decisions in the event you are unable to do so yourself. It also allows you to document your wishes concerning treatment in the event you become terminally ill.

The simple act of planning ahead can assure that your personal wishes are followed.