Getting your estate plan organized may sound like a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. If you just focus on each step at hand, you will find that you have built your estate plan in no time. An estate plan is one of the best approaches to protecting what you have built over a lifetime and ensuring it is passed down to loved ones after your death. You can rest assured knowing that your prized possessions and valuable assets will be going to the people you care about most in your life.
Last Will and Testament
Most estate plans start with having a last will and testament. Without a will written, you will die intestate, in which the government will distribute your estate based on state law, and not on what your wishes would have been. Your first step is to write a will, so think about the assets you have now and who you want to receive them. The people you choose to inherit certain assets are called beneficiaries.
A Living Will
Otherwise referred to as an advance directive, a living will is a document that lists instructions for medical care you want to have should you become seriously ill or incapacitated and cannot communicate your preferences. You can include what you want to happen regarding the use of life-sustaining methods such as breathing tubes, feeding tubes, and life support.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney gives someone else the authority to make choices if you are not able to. It is wise to have a power of attorney for medical care in addition to a POA who handles your finances. These two roles can be the same person, but it is not required that they are. Your power of attorney does not need to be a legal professional, you can always choose someone who isn’t legally-minded but who you know would have your best interests in mind.
A living trust is a document in which your assets are put into a trust for your direct benefit throughout your lifetime, and is then distributed to your chosen beneficiaries upon your death. Your appointed successor trustee will be the person to handle the transferring of your assets to beneficiaries. A benefit of having a living trust is that the property within them doesn’t go through probate, and instead is passed to beneficiaries without interference.
Who you choose to have a portion of your estate will be a personal choice. As an estate planning attorney from Silverman Law Office, PLLC explains, most people choose their spouses, relatives, closest friends, or even charity organizations. After you have written your estate plan, you may need to update your beneficiaries as needed as life circumstances change.