It is critical to identify the important documents that you should have in the event that something unexpected occurs. The benefits of getting your estate plan in order are that you can feel comfortable about having things in place.
Distribution of assets
Will: Describes how your estate is to be distributed. Appoint a Personal Representative to manage the estate, make sure all of your provisions are followed, pay outstanding debts, and close your estate. Be sure to keep it up to date and valid for your state. If you have a trust, you will have a pour-over will rather than a traditional last will and testament (see below for trust information).
Trust: A trust is a mechanism to allow a trustee to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. Trusts can be arranged in many ways and can specify exactly how and when the assets pass to the beneficiaries. The main purpose of a living revocable trust is to avoid probate. Avoiding probate provides ease to your successor trustee and your beneficiaries can gain access to these assets more quickly than they might using a traditional will. Additionally, there are also irrevocable trusts that may provide certain benefits such as a special needs trust or a charitable remainder trust.
What if you cannot make your own decisions during your lifetime
Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will: Gives a friend or family member authority to make health care decisions in the event that you cannot. Outlines your wishes concerning end of life medical care.
Financial Durable Power of Attorney: Gives a friend or family member authority to make financial decisions and handle financial matters in the event that you cannot.
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