Many individuals may want to develop an estate plan, and may know it is important to do so, but may not be sure what they should include in their estate plan. Regardless of age, potential estate planners should understand how important it is to have an effective estate plan that represents their wishes and what to include in that estate plan.
One of the most common and important documents included in an estate plan is a will. A will lays out how the estate planner wishes their property and assets to be distributed and who they want their estate to be distributed to. There are several requirements for a will to be valid that can vary by state so estate planners should be familiar with the requirements in their state. Another important part of an estate plan is the use of a trust, making familiarity with the benefits of a trust, either on its own or accompanying a will, helpful.
Estate planning documents also include a durable power of attorney and advance healthcare directive. An advance healthcare directive, sometimes referred to as a living will, is an important document to include that will provide direction for the estate planner’s medical care and treatment if they become incapacitated and cannot direct it for themselves. Similarly, a durable power of attorney can appoint a trusted individual to handle the estate planner’s finances if they are unable to do so. Estate planners should also make sure they have beneficiary designations, such as those included in their retirement plan, up-to-date.
Estate planners should be familiar with the documents they need to include on their estate planning checklist. Every estate plan will look different so estate planners should be familiar with the estate planning tools that can help them develop an estate plan that is best for them and provides them and their family members with peace of mind for the future.