A will, also known as a last will and testament, is an important document that allows you to choose who will be responsible for your estate after you die. This includes distributing any property you own at the time of your death to the people and organizations you want to receive it. In addition, if you have minor children, then you’ll need to designate guardians to take care of them in the event of your untimely death.
What you need to know
If you have a good estate plan in place, it can ensure that your wishes are followed after you’re gone. It can also help protect your family from unnecessary burdens after your death. Here are some important things to know about what estate planning is—and isn’t—and how to get started.
The basics: what is an estate plan?
An estate plan is a set of documents that together outline your intentions regarding what will happen to your property after you die. It’s like an instruction manual to be used only when needed. Every person who owns property should have an estate plan, even if that property is only one small asset, such as a vacation home or special heirloom. This can be achieved through a simple checklist.
How do I make an estate plan?
An estate plan includes things like a will, power of attorney, health care directives, living wills, and other legal documents that detail what you would like to happen after your death. Estate planning is about protecting those you love when you’re no longer there to protect them.
Estate planning also ensures that your family doesn’t have to go through unnecessary stress or confusion during one of their most difficult times. It’s important to make sure your loved ones are protected after you’re gone.
What are some things to consider when making an estate plan?
Consider including a health care proxy in your estate plan. When you’re incapacitated, someone will have to make important decisions about your health care. If you don’t have a valid health care proxy, it could become a legal mess that affects your family during an already stressful time.
How can my family benefit from having an estate plan?
If you have a family, you will likely want to protect them and your assets from any potential future legal issues. A basic estate plan should consist of at least a will and a durable power of attorney that designates someone as your financial guardian.
Additionally, if you own real estate or businesses, there may be additional documents that you need in order to ensure that they are being managed properly after your death. If something were to happen to you tomorrow, would there be confusion regarding how to manage your business?
Who do I name as Executor, Guardian, etc.?
Whether you have children or not, it’s important to designate an executor of your estate. The executor is typically in charge of dealing with your property after your death; you may want to appoint a child (if you have one), or someone else who knows your wishes. You can also leave other assets (like retirement accounts) to other beneficiaries as well.
What kinds of documents should be created with my estate plan?
Estate planning involves a lot of documentation. Depending on your situation, it can include anything from simple wills to complex trusts and financial power of attorney forms. The key is to make sure you create something that fits your exact needs. To learn more about what estate planning documents work best for you, check out our guide here.