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What documents do I need to plan my estate?

Estate planning allows you to just about guarantee your wishes will be followed. There are two major components to estate planning: preparing for incapacity and preparing for death.

Looking Out of a Skyscaper

To prepare for incapacity, you must decide who will make decisions for you if you no longer can. This includes medical and financial decisions. To appoint an individual to manage your finances, you must create a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances. This document has one primary function. It gives the person named significant authority to handle all of your finances.

For medical and health care decisions, you need to create an Advance Directive for Health Care (also called Health Care Power of Attorney). This document has two functions. First, it names a representative who will make healthcare decisions for you when you are unable to do so. Second, the document explicitly instructs the individual regarding your medical care, health care and end of life choices. These two documents, Power of Attorney and Advance Directive, allow your wishes to be implemented, otherwise you could suffer the risk of Conservatorship or Guardianship.

To prepare for death, you must decide where your assets will go after you are gone. Your will allows you to dictate how you want your assets to be distributed. The person you assign to carry out your wishes during the probate process is your personal representative or executor. If you have no will at death, your probate assets will be distributed according to the intestate succession law of your state.

Clouds Reflected on Windows

To build and protect wealth for your loved ones, you should consider creating trusts for them that would shelter and protect your legacy to them throughout their lives. If you have any online accounts (email, Facebook, LinkedIn, your blogs, Netflix, Amazon, PayPal, etc.), as part of your estate planning, you should also consider creating a digital estate document detailing how to access these assets; who your digital executor will be; and who you want to benefit from this your digital legacy. If there are certain belongings, property, or funds you want designated for certain people, it is paramount that you create a will to articulate these wishes.

If you need help from an attorney experienced in the nuances of powers of attorney, advance directives, and probate and estates, contact us to schedule a consultation (336-275-9567).

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