Are There “Must Have” Estate Planning Documents?

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Certain estate planning documents are non-negotiable.

People do not always like doing things they should do.

Avoiding these necessary tasks can lead to future problems.

Skipping regular visits to your dentist can lead to tooth decay.

Neglecting to change the oil in an automobile can cause engine damage.

According to a recent The Ascent article titled “4 Estate Planning Documents Everyone Should Have,” failing to work with an experienced estate planning attorney can lead to big old mess.

Although the experienced attorney may recommended additional documents, this professional will help you get your foundational estate planning documents in place.

What are these?

Last will and testament.

The last will and testament allows you to select your heirs and leave specific bequests.

For those with minor children, this document also is used to designate the guardian should both parents die.

Without this document in place, the state laws will govern these appointments.


Financial power of attorney.

Having a general durable power of attorney is a necessary financial preparation for the possibility of incapacity.

If you cannot take financial action yourself but are still alive, this document grants a trusted individual to take action for you.

This includes responsibilities like paying bills and filing your tax return.

Healthcare power of attorney.

Although similar to the financial power of attorney, a durable power of attorney for health care decisions focuses on medical decisions and actions.

If you become ill or injured, the agent designated through this fundamental legal document has the authority speak with your healthcare providers and make decisions on treatment.

Your agent may even be required to decide whether to end treatment if you are in a vegetative state.

This is a significant and stressful responsibility.

To provide additional support to this individual, you should also include a living will in your estate planning documents.

Health Care Treatment Directive.

A health care treatment directive is also known as a living will.

With this document, you can outline your specific wishes for treatment to be followed by your medical team as well as your designated health care agent.

By communicating your wishes, you can prevent mental and emotional turmoil for your loved ones left to make decisions.

If you do not currently have these estate planning documents in place or if it has been years since you have reviewed them, schedule a time to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Reference: The Ascent (May 13, 2022) “4 Estate Planning Documents Everyone Should Have”

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