Estate planning is a process, one that involves careful thought, preparation, and attention to detail. But despite the effort everyone has to put into estate planning, the documents you create are almost always the same type that everyone else makes. That’s not to say that these documents are easy to create, but rather that everyone will create an estate plan that relies on essential pieces. Though the details of these pieces will differ from person to person, you can count on creating a number of essential documents if you are beginning the estate planning process.
A Good Will
Even though it’s often very simple, a last will and testament is one of the most basic and important pieces of your estate plan. Through your will you can communicate your wishes to your family and loved ones after you are gone. The document only takes effect after you die, so as long as you remain capable you can update or change your will whenever you like.
While your will covers what you want to happen to your property after you die, not all of your property is subject to the choices you make in your will. Life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and many other types of property allow you to name a beneficiary. Those beneficiaries will receive this property upon your death regardless of whether you have a will or what your will states as your preferences.
Powers of Attorney in Estate Planning
Should something happen to you, you want powers of attorney in place that will allow other people to step in and handle your important affairs. Financial and healthcare powers of attorney give others the ability to make decisions for you when you are no longer capable of doing so on your own.
If you become incapacitated and someone has to manage your property, will that person know what to look for? Similarly, will your estate executor know what property he or she needs to manage while navigating the probate process? You can answer all these questions easily by creating a complete asset inventory. This inventory will state what property you own, where it is located, and also include other relevant details.
Digital Asset Instructions
While your representatives will likely be able to effectively manage your real estate and personal property, you also need to consider your digital assets. Depending on what you have, your digital asset list could be minimal or extensive.
Estate plans also typically include trusts, medical directives, and a handful of other documents. Your estate planning attorney will be able to review each type of document with you and tell you why you need them. Only once you have an idea of all the tools available to you can you begin creating a comprehensive estate plan. Further, gaining a better understanding of what these documents are and what purposes they serve will make you more comfortable with the estate planning process itself.
If you’d like to know more about the kinds of documents you’ll need to create, you can attend one of our upcoming free estate planning seminars. Visit our seminars page and then contact our office to reserve your spot.