Contrary to popular belief, estate planning is not only for the wealthy. These important documents can help ensure your loved ones are in a better position while dealing with difficult events such as death or incapacity. Understanding basic estate planning documents is crucial to ensuring your wishes are carried out.
Important Documents to Include in Your Estate Plan
Estate planning covers a number of scenarios, often those we least want to think about. However, the process is important to ensure that your family members are taken care of. From mixed families to end-of-life medical care, your estate plan covers more than the distribution of your assets.
1. Will or Trust
Estate plans can be will or trust-based. Which is right for you will depend on your personal circumstances. Typically, trusts are used when your situation is relatively complex or when there is an estate tax benefit or legal issue you‘re hoping to circumvent. This option tends to be more expensive and time-consuming to prepare.
Either way, your trust or last will and testament is one of the most critical documents in your estate plan. Through it, you can outline how you want the majority of your assets divided among your beneficiaries, name guardians for any minor children or pets, and name the executor of your will. Ensure your wishes follow state laws to avoid Ohio probate court or a will contest.
2. Beneficiary Designations
While your will covers things like real estate, bank accounts, and other assets, you’ll also need to ensure beneficiaries are outlined for all your non-probate assets. This typically includes your life insurance policies, IRA and other retirement accounts, and pensions.
3. Durable Power of Attorney
Additionally, drafting a durable power of attorney (POA) can help keep the court from determining what happens to your assets if you’re incapacitated. With this document, an agent or person can make financial and legal decisions until you’re deemed able to or upon death.
4. Advanced Healthcare Directive or Living Will
Of course, your wishes aren’t only related to assets and money. While outlining your financial power of attorney is very important, there are other POA roles to consider. For example, sharing your wishes about healthcare decisions. You can assign a healthcare power of attorney (HCPA) to carry out your living will. This person is typically a spouse or close family member. Regardless of who you choose, ensure it’s someone that understands and respects your wishes, as they have the potential to make life and death medical decisions for you.
While there are additional estate planning documents that may suit your situation, the above items should at least help you begin to put your affairs in order. These important legal documents can vary to cover a variety of special needs. For that reason, it’s often best to work with professionals in financial planning, estate planning attorneys, and accountants to develop a plan that fits you. If you’re in need of a trusted financial advisor in Columbus, OH, consider getting in touch with Royal Oak Financial Group today!