Every estate plan will be unique, the but the general elements of an estate plan usually include the following for each person: will (often known as a pour-over will), revocable trust (may also be known as a living trust), power of attorney for property, and power of attorney for health care. Each element of the estate plan is described below:
A will is where you name a guardian for your minor children. You will also name an executor to handle the initial administration of your estate. That includes gathering financial information and may include probate. A will can also distribute specific items of personal property. A will is an important first step in the estate planning process.
There are many advantages to having a trust, even if you come to this process feeling like you don’t have an estate large enough to warrant a trust.
- A trust allows you to create a long-term management plan for your assets, which is particularly important if you have children.
- If all of your assets are properly titled in the name of your trust, it is possible to avoid the probate process at the time of administering your estate.
- Your successor trustee can manage your finances during your life if you are unable to manage them yourself without needing a court to appoint a guardian to do so.
- Trusts are private documents, whereas wills are public documents.
Power of Attorney for Property.
A power of attorney for property allows you to name an agent to make financial decisions for you if you are alive but unable to communicate them.
Power of Attorney for Health Care.
A power of attorney for health care allows you to name an agent to make health care decisions for you if you are alive but unable to communicate them. This includes end-of-life decision making and terminating life support.