Estate planning can be complicated, but parents need to have a solid plan in place to ensure their children are taken care of in the event of an untimely death. One important part of estate planning is having the right documents. Here are four documents your estate attorney can draft to protect your children and your family's financial future.
A will, sometimes referred to as a last will and testament, is a legal document that outlines what you want to do with your assets after you die. This document will specify who should be the executor of your estate, who will have guardianship over your minor children, and how your assets will be divided among your beneficiaries. Without a will, the court will decide who gets your assets and who will care for your children, which may not align with your wishes.
2. Living Trust
A living trust is another important document in your estate plan. A living trust is a legal arrangement where you transfer ownership of your property to the trust while you are still alive. You will still have control over your assets while you're alive, but the trust will control the assets upon your death. This arrangement makes it easier for your beneficiaries to access and manage your assets without the hassle of probate court.
3. Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is another document you need. It gives someone else the authority to act on your behalf if you become sick or incapacitated. This person, known as your agent or attorney-in-fact, will have the power to make decisions about your finances and health care when you're unable to do so. Without a durable power of attorney, your family may have to go to court to appoint a guardian or conservator, which can be expensive and time-consuming.
4. Advanced Health Care Directive
An advanced health care directive is also known colloquially as a living will. This document allows you to specify your health care wishes in case you become unable to make decisions for yourself. It will outline what you want to be done in terms of life-saving measures and who you want to make medical decisions on your behalf.
Estate planning may not be the most comfortable topic, but for parents, it's something that can't be ignored. These four documents will help protect your family and your assets. Take the time to meet with an estate attorney and put together a plan that works for you. It's a small investment that will pay off and give you peace of mind that your loved ones will be taken care of if something happens to you.
Contact a local estate attorney to learn more.