Looking ahead to life after your death does not spark excitement in many. However, failing to do so may have serious consequences for the people you love most.
Even if you do not want to hash out a complex estate plan, doing something is better than letting a difficult situation befall your loved ones. Make building your plans for after-death a priority, and start making decisions to benefit your family.
What documents do you need in an estate plan?
There are a variety of documents that may combine to form a comprehensive estate plan.
If you want to help your family after your death, start by creating a will. It is the instrument that goes through court after you die. Without a will, probate drags, and your loved ones may become stuck without access to assets and property.
Your estate plan may incorporate documents that care for you in difficult times. An advance directive sets out your desires and wishes regarding your medical care should you lose the ability to speak or have the mental capacity to decide.
Power of attorney
Like an advance directive, a power of attorney may benefit you when you need it most. This document appoints someone you choose to make medical and financial decisions for you. A medical power of attorney follows the wishes set out in your medical directive and living will. A financial power of attorney can access your assets and debts to pay for your care.
A trust can expedite the disbursement of property to loved ones outside of probate court. A trust is not part of your estate and does not go through court. Beneficiaries and trustees may open it whenever you pass, or the terms of the trust allow it.
Having a practical estate plan can help your family at their lowest point.