A basic estate plan can be fairly straightforward to create with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney.
Here are the main items you need in an estate plan. However, ask your estate planning attorney about what else you may need in your specific circumstances.
Bankrate’s recent article entitled “Estate planning checklist: 3 key steps to making a successful plan” says there are three things you need in every good estate plan: Last Will and Testament, Power(s) of Attorney and an Advance Healthcare Directive – and each serves a different purpose. Let us look at these:
A Last Will and Testament. This is the cornerstone of your estate plan. A Will instructs the way in which your assets should be distributed.
Everyone needs a Will, even if it is a very basic one. If you do nothing else in planning your estate, at least create a Will, so you do not die intestate and leave the decisions to the courts.
A Power of Attorney (POA). This document permits you to give a person the ability to take care of your affairs while you are still living. A financial POA can help, if you are incapacitated and unable to manage your finances or pay your bills. A medical POA can also help a loved one take care of healthcare decisions on your behalf.
With a financial POA, you can give as much or as little power over your financial affairs as you want. Note that when establishing this document, you should have a conversation with your POA Agent, so if called upon, he or she will have a good understanding of what they can and cannot do financially for you. A healthcare POA also allows a person to make healthcare decisions, if you are unable to do so.
An Advance Healthcare Directive. This document instructs medical staff how you want them to handle your health-related decisions, if you are unable to choose or communicate. It includes resuscitation, sustaining your quality of life, pain management and end-of-life care.
Reference: Bankrate (July 23, 2021) “Estate planning checklist: 3 key steps to making a successful plan”