Estate plans come in many shapes and sizes. Some people may want complex trusts that can preserve wealth for future generations, protect property, provide for charities and achieve other goals. Other people may want something relatively simple and straightforward. Regardless of the complexity of their needs, everyone should have some kind of estate plan.
Setting up an estate plan allows you to ensure your affairs are in order and that your family and loved ones will not have to deal with a legal and financial mess during their time of loss and grief.
A will is the most commonly known estate planning document. Wills ensure your financial resources, assets and property are inherited by the people you want to benefit as your beneficiaries.
Another important document to include in your estate plan is a durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney can be used for medical and financial affairs. The document allows you to appoint an agent to serve as a trusted decisionmaker for both. An advance medical directive lets you outline the type of medical care you want or do not want. You can outline your wishes concerning medical interventions in an advance medical directive.
A trust is another document to consider. Including a trust in your estate plan greatly expands your ability to manage your financial assets. It creates a fiduciary relationship in which you transfer property or money into the trust to benefit a named beneficiary. The property is managed by the trustee you select.
Each of these estate planning documents can help you care for yourself, your property and the people you love.