Embarking on the journey of estate planning is a wise and caring step toward securing your family’s future. Sometimes, clients who are eager to get things done quickly forget to include crucial details when preparing their documents.
To ensure you don’t miss a beat, here is a list of essentials you should not forget to include in your estate planning documents.
Last will and testament
The cornerstone of any estate plan, your will, contains how you want to distribute your assets after you pass away. Make sure this document defines your beneficiaries and specifies who gets what. You will also name the person you want to be in charge of your estate – the Personal Representative a/k/a Executor. This is a person who is honest, good with paperwork and efficient. Not necessarily the “oldest child.” This step is not just for the wealthy—everyone should have a will.
Guardianship of children
Parents of young kids rarely want to think about something happening to them, and many parents are fearful of even thinking about it. However, life happens whether we want it to and it is critical to designate a guardian for your minor child or children if something happens to you.
Healthcare proxy and living will
If there is ever a time when you cannot make medical decisions for yourself, someone will have to make those decisions for you. The best way to have control over who will make these decisions is by designating a healthcare proxy.
A living will outline your preferences for medical treatment, which provides guidance to the person you choose as your healthcare proxy and helps both them and medical professionals understand what you want to do if certain medical issues come up.
Financial power of attorney
This document allows you to designate someone to manage your financial affairs when you cannot. It is a practical way to ensure that someone you trust pays your bills and handles your financial matters.
Letter of intent
While this is not a legally binding document, a letter of intent can be enormously helpful in understanding you and your wishes when it comes time to decide on your behalf or distribute your assets. The clearer you are about what your wishes are, the easier the process will be.
There are other important documents that you should have in your estate planning, such as beneficiary designations, trust documents, digital asset instructions, and funeral instructions. There are additional protections for both you and your loved ones, so the process is clear when you pass away.
Remember, estate planning is not just for one specific group of people. In fact, everyone who owns anything should have a will and estate planning documents.
Everyone may have preferences about how they want to handle their last days. Make sure you do not miss out and regularly review and update your estate planning documents to ensure they are always consistent with your current life circumstances.