Planning the future of your estate is a huge endeavor! Before you start searching “estate planning for dummies” on the internet, check out our comprehensive Estate Planning Guide (PDF). We know the estate planning process can be confusing. That’s why we’ve compiled this helpful guide to offer insight, tips, and peace of mind as you create your estate planning checklist.
Estate Planning Basics
Your estate is the collection of all your personal belongings like your home, car, cash, accounts, investments, real estate, interest and more. It’s essential to protect your possessions with detailed estate planning! This ensures that your assets will be passed on in the way you intend, while minimizing taxes, fees, and distress for your loved ones.
Your estate plan can also explain the kind of healthcare you will want if you cannot make your own decisions in the future. It tells your loved ones your wishes regarding long-term care, finance management, and plans for your children’s welfare.
Estate Planning Documents: 5 Main Types
In our guide, we focus on the five most essential and common documents that you need for estate planning 101.
1. Revocable/Irrevocable Trust
This is a legal arrangement in which your trustee manages assets on behalf of the beneficiaries you’ve named in your trust. A revocable living trust is flexible, meaning you can amend or revoke it during your lifetime. But once an irrevocable trust is set, you cannot alter it again.
2. Last Will & Testament
Your Last Will & Testament outlines how you want your assets distributed after your death. You can also name an executor for your estate, as well as a guardian for any minor children. Your Will only comes into effect upon your death.
3. Power of Attorney
This document grants an agent of your choosing the legal right to make decisions regarding your health, finances, and other legal issues. Durable Power of Attorney is the most common one for estate planning since it remains in effect when you’re unable to make decisions.
4. Healthcare Power of Attorney
This is the document that lets you choose someone to specifically make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated.
5. Living Will/Advance Directive
Here, you can express your wishes about end-of-life medical treatment if you become unable to communicate them yourself. This includes details about CPR, life support, organ donation and other important end-of-life issues.
The Complete Estate Planning Process
If you are looking for some estate planning examples, here is a quick list of the steps you’ll need to take throughout this process.
- Make a list of all your assets.
- Create a Last Will/Testament if you don’t already have one.
- Create a Living Trust.
- Design a Durable Power of Attorney.
- Create a Healthcare Proxy.
- Design a Living Will.
- Store all these important documents in a safe place.
LegalShield can walk with you through this journey, every step of the way. Your LegalShield lawyer is available for consultation, review of documents up to 15 pages each, assistance with letters and phone calls, and more. We also make creating your Will simple and convenient with our Will questionnaire. Access your LegalShield benefits directly through our mobile app.
You can download our Estate Planning Guide (PDF).
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