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What Should Be Included in an Estate Plan?

Person signing a will. What should be included in an estate plan?

Creating an estate plan is an important step in ensuring that your assets and wishes are protected and carried out after your passing. This comprehensive guide will walk you through what should be included in an estate plan, such as a will, power of attorney, healthcare directives, and more. By taking the time to carefully plan and document your wishes, you can provide peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones.

Last Will and Testament: Provide instructions for the distribution of your assets and the care of any minor children after your death.

One of the most important components of an estate plan is a Last Will and Testament. This legal document allows you to provide instructions for the distribution of your probate assets after your death. You can specify who will receive your property, money, and other belongings, ensuring that your wishes are carried out. Additionally, if you have minor children, you can use your will to designate a guardian who will be responsible for their care. By including a Last Will and Testament in your estate plan, you can have peace of mind knowing that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes and that your children will be taken care of in the event of your passing.

Revocable Living Trust: Manage your assets during your lifetime and smoothly transfer those assets to designated beneficiaries upon your death.

A revocable living trust is a key element to include in your estate plan. This type of trust allows you to manage your assets during your lifetime and ensures a smooth transfer of those assets to your designated beneficiaries upon your death. By placing your assets in a trust, you can avoid the probate process, which can be time-consuming and costly. Additionally, a revocable living trust provides privacy, as it does not become a matter of public record like a will does. It is important to work with an experienced estate planning attorney to create and properly fund your revocable living trust to ensure that your wishes are carried out effectively.

Financial Power of Attorney: Designate someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

Another essential component of an estate plan is a Financial Power of Attorney. This legal document allows you to designate someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and are unable to make these decisions yourself. This person, known as your agent or attorney-in-fact, will have the authority to manage your finances, pay bills, make investment decisions, and handle any legal matters that may arise. By appointing a trusted individual as your Financial Power of Attorney, you can ensure that your financial affairs are taken care of and that your wishes are followed, even if you are unable to communicate or make decisions. It is important to choose someone who is responsible, trustworthy, and capable of handling these important responsibilities.

Healthcare Power of Attorney: Appoint someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so.

A Healthcare Power of Attorney is a crucial component of an estate plan. This legal document allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. This person, known as your healthcare agent or proxy, will have the authority to communicate with healthcare providers, make treatment decisions, and ensure that your medical wishes are followed. It is important to choose someone who understands your values and preferences regarding medical care and who will advocate for your best interests. By having a Healthcare Power of Attorney in place, you can have peace of mind knowing that your healthcare decisions will be made by someone you trust, even if you are unable to make them yourself.

Living Will: Specify your wishes regarding end-of-life medical treatment.

A living will is an essential component of an estate plan as it allows you to specify your wishes regarding end-of-life medical treatment. This legal document outlines the medical treatments you would like to receive or refuse if you become terminally ill or incapacitated and are unable to communicate your wishes. It provides guidance to your healthcare providers and loved ones, ensuring that your wishes are respected and followed. By creating a living will, you can have peace of mind knowing that your healthcare decisions will align with your values and preferences, even in challenging circumstances.

Beneficiary Designations: Ensure that your life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other assets have designated beneficiaries.

When creating your estate plan, it’s important to consider beneficiary designations for your life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other assets. By designating beneficiaries, you ensure that these assets will pass directly to the individuals or organizations you choose, without going through the probate process. This can help to expedite the distribution of your assets and ensure that your wishes are carried out effectively. Be sure to review and update your beneficiary designations regularly to reflect any changes in your circumstances or relationships.

Insurance Policies and Financial Information: Ensure your loved ones have this information when they need it.

When creating your estate plan, it is crucial to include information about your insurance policies and financial accounts. This includes details about your life insurance policies, health insurance policies, retirement accounts, bank accounts, and any other financial assets you may have. By providing this information to your loved ones, you are ensuring that they have access to the necessary funds and resources when they need it most. It is important to keep this information updated and easily accessible, so that your loved ones can easily locate and access these accounts in the event of your passing.

Proof of Identity Cards: Your loved ones may need these if you die or become incapacitated.

As part of your estate plan, it is important to include proof of identity cards for yourself and your loved ones. These cards can include passports, driver’s licenses, social security cards, and any other identification documents that are necessary for legal and financial matters. In the event of your passing or incapacitation, your loved ones may need these cards to handle important tasks such as accessing your bank accounts, filing insurance claims, or making legal decisions on your behalf. Make sure to keep these cards in a safe and easily accessible place, and inform your loved ones of their location.

What Should Be Included In An Estate Plan: Titles and Property Deeds.

One important component of an estate plan is ensuring that titles and property deeds are properly handled. This includes making sure that all property you own is titled correctly and that the deeds are up to date. It’s important to review and update these documents regularly to ensure that your property is distributed according to your wishes after your passing. Additionally, if you have any specific instructions or conditions regarding the transfer of your property, it’s important to include these in your estate plan as well.

What Should Be Included In An Estate Plan: Digital Logins and Passwords.

In today’s digital age, it’s crucial to include your digital logins and passwords as part of your estate plan. Many people have numerous online accounts, from social media platforms to online banking, and it’s important to have a plan in place for how these accounts will be managed after your passing. Make a list of all your digital accounts and their corresponding logins and passwords, and store this information in a secure location. You may also want to consider appointing a digital executor who can handle the management and closure of your online accounts according to your wishes. By including your digital logins and passwords in your estate plan, you can ensure that your online presence is properly managed and protected after you’re gone.

What Should Be Included In An Estate Plan: Funeral Instructions.

When creating your estate plan, it’s important to include instructions for your funeral or memorial service. This can help alleviate the burden on your loved ones during an already difficult time. Consider specifying your preferences for burial or cremation, as well as any specific requests for the service itself. You may also want to include information about any pre-paid funeral arrangements or burial plots you have already made. By including these instructions in your estate plan, you can ensure that your wishes are carried out and provide peace of mind for your loved ones.

Call us today to discuss what should be included in an estate plan!

Securing your legacy and providing for your loved ones is crucial, and it begins with having the right estate planning documents. Don’t leave your future to chance. Contact our expert estate planning attorneys today to help you navigate this essential process. We’re here to ensure that your final wishes are honored and your loved ones are cared for. Get started today, because peace of mind for your family’s future is just a phone call away! Call us at 602-443-4888 today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.

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