In a number of our posts we have noted that estate planning is helpful for people at just about any age. You don’t need to have millions in liquid assets, multiple real estate holdings or tax shelters in order to have a basic estate plan. In fact, just having an idea about how you would want to be treated medically if you are unable to speak, or who you would want to make decisions on your behalf is enough. With this in mind, we offer this post to introduce the basic things you should have in your estate plan.
A Will – At its core, the purpose of a will is to establish directions for how you want to distribute your assets in the event of your passing, and to appoint someone to handle your affairs. This includes how outstanding expenses will be paid, and how ceremonies will be handled, among other things.
A Durable Power of Attorney – This document allows you to appoint someone to act as your agent to make legal and financial decisions in the event you become incapacitated. It is different that appointing an executor because that person does not become effective until the testator passes away.
A Living Will – This document, also known as a healthcare directive, specifies how you wish to be taken care of with regard to end-of-life care. It can specify how what medical treatments should be eliminated, such as continued artificial respiration or feeding tubes if you experience a critical, permanent life event. This could be made in conjunction with a medical power of attorney.
Source: WSJ.com “Four estate planning documents everyone should have,” Tom Lauricella, April 20, 2014