There are three basic documents you need for your estate planning, documents that everyone should have in order to protect themselves and their loved ones. Some people attempt to download these forms off the internet or purchase a book that enables them to do it themselves, and while that is better than not having them at all, it is wise to consult an attorney in your state about forming these documents so that they are not so easily contested if someone in your family or life should not like what you have decided. The best way to make sure that your wishes are followed is to be clear about them, see a qualified expert (and sometimes, if you are dealing with a lot of property involving an accountant and/or financial planner in the estate plan) and making sure that the documents are available to those who will carry out your wishes in the event that you are incapacitated or after your death. The three basic documents you need are the Power of Attorney, the Healthcare Power of Attorney and/or Living Will, and a Will.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
What is it? A document that gives someone else the ability to handle all or some of your affairs. It can be limited in scope or general. It can be springing (it starts when you are incapacitated) or durable (the person is always able to act in your behalf).
Why do I need it? Without it, who is going to pay your bills, manage applications to services, handle your health insurance or otherwise do all the things you need done for you when you are incapacitated?
What is it? A document that says how you want your assets divided when you die.
Why do I need it? You need it to have a say in how your assets are divided, who raises your minor children, who carries out your wishes. Otherwise, a court will decide, and that may not lead to results that would make you happy.
What is it? A document that tells your loved ones and medical caretakers what your wishes are if you are unable to tell them yourself.
Why do I need it? Don’t leave your loved ones to make a tough decision about what to do based on their guess of what you would want. Give them the relief of knowing they are carrying out your wishes, and give yourself the dignity of making your own healthcare choices in advance.
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