What Estate Plan Documents Should I Have? 🤔
Estate planning is one of the most important aspects of one’s affairs. It helps secure the future of a couple’s children, if there are any, and brings peace of mind. However, many of us have none or only some of the essential estate planning documents we should have.
So, what estate plan documents should I have? In reality, there are quite a few that you should have to protect your assets and if you’re a parent to protect your children.
Last Will and Testament
Among other things, the last will and testament contain a person’s final instructions for their assets. The court uses the will to distribute the decedent’s assets. Without a will, the court must resort to the laws of probate for guidance, which could lead to uncertainty and family disputes. The last will and testament will also have guardians designated if minor children survive the parents.
Health Care Surrogate Designation
Within the estate planning documents, there will be a document that designates who will act as one’s health care surrogate. The surrogate will have the authority to make health care decisions on behalf of oneself. You may also designate a surrogate to make decisions on behalf of your minor children as well.
Preneed Guardian Designation
If you can no longer take care of your minor children, someone else must step in. The worst case scenario occurs when the wrong person takes custody, which is a distinct possibility without a preneed guardian designation. Additionally, having a preneed guardian designation on file with the court will help prevent infighting between relatives over custody.
Although many people include guardianship information in a will, it is recommended that parents also have a separate document that sets forth their guardianship desires. Consider a case where the parents are incapacitated; Because they are still alive, the will’s provisions have no effect. So their guardianship instructions may be disregarded.
Revocable Living Trust
A revocable living trust allows you to place assets in a trust and avoid probate when you pass away. While you are alive, you may change the terms of the trust at any time. Upon passing, the appointed trustee will be required to disburse the assets to the named trust beneficiaries.
A living will lets you decide in advance on the end-of-life care treatment you prefer. Instructions in a living will address issues such as resuscitation orders and the refusal of specific types of medical treatment.
Funeral and Burial Instructions
You can specify how you would like to be buried and give instructions on other associated matters in a document. Although you can include funeral and burial instructions in your will, having a separate document with this information can be highly beneficial.
For example, in some cases, wills may take some time to locate. Meanwhile, a person may be ready for burial while the family members search for the document and funeral provisions contained within. With a separate document detailing important post death instructions, a family can take action in a timely manner.
Estate Planning Help
You might be asking yourself, “What estate planning documents should I have?” Start with the ones listed above and then contact The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm for a more in depth consultation to determine what is best for you and your family.