No matter your age or family situation, having an estate plan is a must. Writing down your wishes for your family can be the best gift you can give them.
A basic estate plan only requires three documents to cover the broadest issues. They include:
A Last Will and Testament
Your will addresses three concerns that your family would have in the event of tragedy:
- The distribution of your assets: by writing a will you ensure that the distribution of your personal assets happens according to your wishes, and not through probate court.
- A guardian for your minor children: you can name the person you trust to take care of your children should something happen to you.
- A trustee for your estate: you can name an agent whom you trust to execute your will honestly instead of having the state appoint one for you.
A will is only triggered by death. The next two documents protect your loved ones should you be unable to make decisions for yourself.
A Durable Power of Attorney
In this document you name the person you trust to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. You can allow them to make financial, legal and other decisions in your best interest while you are unable to do so for yourself.
An Advance Healthcare Directive
This document articulates your wishes regarding the use of medical interventions should you be critically or terminally ill. Additionally, you name a person you trust to authorize those decisions on your behalf.
By executing these three documents you give your loved ones peace of mind knowing that your affairs are in order should a tragedy occur.