Did you know that only 46 percent of adults in the United States of America have a will set up and ready to go? It’s common for people to wonder what documents are needed for estate planning and how to get started with setting up wills and trusts. No one enjoys thinking about the end of their lives, but it’s important that you pass your assets on to the people that are important to you.
One of the best things you can do to start your estate planning is to start working with an estate planning attorney. The attorney will need certain documents to get started with helping you plan for the future. The good news is that you’re in the right place to know all about the most important documents to have for your attorney.
Keep reading to start your estate planning today!
Wills and Trusts
One of the most important documents to have when you head to the meeting with your estate planning attorney is the will that you’ve had prepared should you pass away. Many people have the misconception that wills and trusts are only for rich people and that they’re complicated and confusing to set up.
A will or a trust is a vital part of any estate planning strategy because it protects your assets from going to probate court when you pass away. They’re vital for helping your beneficiaries receive your assets without paying massive amounts of tax dollars on them. You need to make sure that the wording of the will cover all of the necessary criteria.
Make sure that you’re not willing the same asset or item to two different people Doing this will lead to a contested will and a bunch of hoops for your beneficiaries to jump through. The estate planning attorneys found here will get you set up with a will that covers all of your needs.
Power of Attorney
Another important document to have when you start estate planning is to have a durable power of attorney setup. The person that you give the power of attorney will have the right to act on your behalf if you’re not able to do so. Without a power of attorney, the court will decide what will happen to your assets after you pass away.
The agent that you give the power of attorney will have the ability to take care of real estate transactions and make legal decisions as if they were you. If you’re married then it makes a lot of sense to give the power of attorney to your spouse or a life partner.
It’s also possible that your possessions and assets will pass on to your heirs without the need to write them up in your will or trust. Always designate a beneficiary on your will or trust to ensure that certain assets go to the correct people. Make sure to edit your beneficiary designations in the event that your beneficiary becomes ill or deceased.
If that is the case, your assets could end up in probate court with no guarantee that they go to the people that you planned to pass them down to. You don’t want to put your assets in the hands of a judge that is unlikely to possess the same values and beliefs as you when it comes to your possessions.
Letter of Intent
The letter of intent is another document that is vital for estate planning once you hire an estate planning attorney. The letter of intent is designed to get left to the executor of your will. It works as a road map to explain to the executor how you’d like the will to be dispersed and your assets handed down after you pass away or become incapacitated.
Some letters of intent also provide details about how you’d like your funeral to get handled. If you have any special requests or stipulations then you can add them to your letter of intent for your executor to make a reality.
This letter doesn’t hold any legal significance, but it’s great to put it together for the beneficiary or executor so that they’ll know how you’d like to proceed after you’re no longer alive. It also explains how you’d like things done should your assets end up in probate court. The judge can use them to determine how to allocate your assets.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
You’ll also want to make sure that you have a healthcare power of attorney when you’re putting together your estate planning documents. It’s always best to choose someone that you trust since this person will make decisions for you should your health prevent you from making decisions for yourself.
This person should share your views and values as this person quite literally has your life in their hands. You should also designate a backup or alternate person in the event that your first choice is unable to take on the position.
Guardianship designations are another key cog in any good estate planning strategy. If you have children then you need to pick out people that will act as the guardians for them in the event that you pass away. Don’t overlook this aspect of estate planning as it could result in dire consequences for your current or future children.
Make sure that you choose backup guardians so that you’re covered no matter what. The alternative is a court judge deciding which family members your children should live with after you pass away. It’s much better to choose someone that you know and trust to look after your kids.
Now You Know What Documents Are Needed for Estate Planning
A big part of becoming a successful adult is learning what documents are needed for estate planning should you have an untimely death. Make sure that you have guardianship designations so that your kids will get taken care of by people that you know and trust. It’s also wise to get a health and durable power of attorney to help out with your wills and trusts if you’re incapacitated.
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