What Legal Documents are Needed in an Estate Plan?
If you plan to give away property or assets, you’ll need to create a will, trust document, or other estate planning document, advises KHTS’s recent article entitled “Common Documents An Estate Planning Attorney Can Draft.” Let’s take a look at these:
Trusts and Wills. An experienced estate planning attorney can draft documents, such as a will or trust, to ensure that your property is distributed the way you’d want it in the event of your death. A will can do this. An estate planning attorney can also assist you in keeping assets out of probate court. A trust is crucial if you have to keep the money you give away out of your estate. A trust also protects assets from possible creditors.
Living Trust. A living trust is set up while you’re alive rather than waiting until your death, so that you can change it at any time without court administration. A living trust also doesn’t require probate or court approval. The way money passes through a trust is instead determined by the terms and the state in which you live.
Medical Powers of Attorney. This legal document lets a person delegate specific healthcare decisions, if incapacitated. This document doesn’t supersede a living will or any other advance directive but allows an individual to enjoy more flexibility. A medical power of attorney also allows the individual to appoint a healthcare proxy and someone to the power of attorney who can make medical decisions in their name while they are still capable.
Durable Power of Attorney. This legal document allows individuals to delegate specific authority over their financial and legal affairs. A durable power of attorney also permits the individual to appoint someone as guardian, who can make financial decisions for the individual when they cannot do so. Of course, a guardian can’t make decisions for the incapacitated person in all situations. For example, they may be unable to protect the individual’s assets from creditors. However, a guardian can make financial decisions and has the power to access your bank account, even if you’re incapacitated.
It’s never too early to start planning for your future and estate. However, without the proper legal documents, your property may not be distributed as you would like, or other necessary steps may not be taken. An experienced estate planning attorney will give you options that aren’t available to those who try to do it themselves.
Reference: KHTS (Dec. 15, 2022) “Common Documents An Estate Planning Attorney Can Draft”