An estate plan isn’t just a boilerplate document that you’ve downloaded from the internet for yourself. Instead, it is a collection of documents and instructions that protect you if you having a medical emergency and that protect your wishes if you die.
You will need to include multiple different documents in your estate plan depending on your resources and wishes, including many of the documents below.
A last will
Your last will and testament will determine what happens to your property after you die. The probate courts will ensure that your assets pass on to the appropriate beneficiaries as outlined in your last will. If you die without a last will or estate plan, the probate courts will allocate your property to your closest family members according to intestate laws of succession, which may not align with your wishes.
A will is not the only way to pass property. A trust can also be an important tool for transferring property. It will give you more control over how people use assets and can help you bypass probate court and avoid estate taxes. Trusts can also protect you against creditor claims taking away from what you leave for your loved ones.
An advance health care directive
If you experience a medical emergency, having the right paperwork in place is crucial. You can outline all of your medical wishes in an advanced health care directive, ranging from pain management preferences to your feelings about organ and tissue donation.
Powers of attorney
When you draft a power of attorney, you empower someone else to protect you when you have an emergency.
There are many other documents you could include in your estate plan, ranging from letters to succession plans if you are a business owner. Learning about estate planning can help you decide what protection you and your loved ones require.