If you do not already have an estate plan in place, it is wise to do so as soon as possible. Dying without one would complicate life for those you love.
Here are three essential documents you will need:
An advanced health care directive
Hopefully, you will die peacefully in your sleep at a ripe old age and never need to use this. Yet you can never be sure. Here are some things health care directives can cover:
- What treatments you would or would not like
- Who will make any decisions that you have not mentioned
- Where you wish to be treated
- What, if any, organs or body parts you would like to donate if you die
A power of attorney
If you cannot make decisions for some reason, such as a coma or mental illness, you need someone to make them for you. Their power to act only comes into play if you reach that stage, but you need it in place now so they can quickly step in if needed.
This is the most basic way to determine who you want to get your assets when you die. You can refine it later, perhaps using trusts and other estate planning tools to prevent particular assets from passing through probate, protect them from creditors or reduce the value of your estate for tax purposes.
If you die without a will or some alternative means of distributing your estate, a court will use the state’s intestate laws to decide who gets what. Aside from the probability that their decision is not entirely in line with your wishes, it will also delay the whole distribution process.
Getting legal help to discover more about estate planning can help you protect yourself and your family.