Ever wonder what documents you need to make an estate plan?
While there are many different types of legal documents that can help you plan how your affairs will be handled in the future, there are 5 basic documents that any estate plan should include.
At a minimum, every estate plan should include:
1. A Last Will and Testament or a Trust. A “will” is a legal document that states your final wishes and gives instructions about how to divide up your property when you die. Your will directs the manner in which you want your property distributed and to whom.In some circumstances, a trust might better fit your needs.There are many things to think about when drafting your will. For example, people with children from a previous marriage may need to consider if they want those children to receive something. Or, do you want disinherit someone? Who do you want to administer the terms of your will? In other words, who will be your personal representative (also called an “executor” or “executrix” in many states)? All these questions and more must be answered and spelled out in the will.
2. Financial Power of Attorney. This legal document authorizes someone of your choice, whom you trust, to handle financial matters for you if you become incapacitated or too sick to handle them yourself. It allows the person with the “power” to sign checks, pay bills and even sell real estate on your behalf.
3. Healthcare Power of Attorney.This document gives someone of your choice the legal authority to make medical decisions for you if there ever comes a time when you cannot make those decisions for yourself.
4. Mental Healthcare Power of Attorney. This document is Arizona specific, so if you are coming from another state where your estate plan was originally drafted, then take note that you most likely need to add this document to your plan. This will allow (or disallow) your healthcare agent, usually the same person you chose in your healthcare power of attorney, to put you in a mental healthcare facility of two psychiatrists determine that it is absolutely necessary for your well-being.
5. Living Will. Often called a “heath care proxy” or “advance care directive,” this document is vital (see our post on the Terri Schiavo case). A living will gives your instructions regarding what type of medical intervention or treatment you want in the event you become terminally ill or incapacitated (coma, Alzheimer’s etc.). This is the document that tells the doctors whether or not to “pull the plug.” It lets you choose whether or not you want feeding tubes or extreme measures taken to keep you alive.
It is important that you have these 5 documents at the very least and it is important that they are current, up-to-date, specific to the laws of your state and properly drafted.
We Can Help.
We are estate planning attorneys. We personally prepare all the documents you need. In our custom-tailored Legacy Estate Plans we include even more documents to make sure we have set you and your family up to be protected in every possible scenario that could arise. We have offices in Sedona, Arizona; and we serve Verde Valley and all of Arizona. We offer free consultations and we can help you with your estate planning needs. Call us at (602) 540-1499 or Contact us to set up your free appointment.