Estate Planning Basics – Get your ducks in a row

/ September 25, 2010

A blank file in a filing cabinetIt is essential to have your affairs in order to ensure that your property and family members are cared for after your death.  Your estate plan is the blueprint for your wishes and directives for when you are unable to express such requests either due to incapacity or death.  By creating an estate plan, you will ensure that your money, property and personal belongings will pass to your loved ones in accordance with your wishes.

The following are the documents that traditionally form your estate plan:

 

Last Will and Testament

This document distributes your personal property to those individuals that you name as beneficiaries.  A basic trust can be created within your Will for the benefit of minor children and guardians can also be designated. Depending on your needs and assets, additional trusts and provisions can be included.  It is in this document that you can name your Personal Representative(s), Beneficiaries, Guardian(s) for your children, and Trustee(s) of any established trusts.

Health Care Directive with HIPAA Waiver

This document allows you to name someone as your health care agent. Your agent would have the authority to make a wide range of critical medical and mental health decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. This document also allows you to be clear about your own health care preferences such as life support, pain relief, and selection of doctors. The directive includes a HIPAA waiver so that your agent may obtain access to your medical information, when the need arises.

Power of Attorney

This document allows you to name another person to handle your financial assets, manage real property transactions, and sign documents for you in case you are unable to do so. This document is effective immediately and can be made durable by indicating that it shall be effective in the event that you become incapacitated.

 

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