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Estate Planning Documents—Other Than Wills
One of the biggest misconceptions about estate planning is that it is a single document. People may assume they meet with an attorney to draft a will or create a specific type of trust, which is the beginning and end of the matter. Your estate plan is a collection of documents, and when they are combined, they formulate your plan.
An attorney listens and learns about your situation, assets, and financial position. When you explain what you want to accomplish, an estate planning attorney hand selects each document in accordance with whether it meets your needs. If someone asks whether they need a will or a trust, the answer could be both—depending on your circumstances. Think of it as a blend of art and science.
Different lawyers may prefer or advocate that you use one trust over another. Each document is a tool that serves a unique function. Though each one has pros and cons, drawbacks and benefits, the foundation of the plan is formed when these documents come together. Here are some of the documents you came across:
Regardless of whether they are 18 or 118, they can benefit from having advance directives. These documents give other people the ability to make both legal and financial decisions on your behalf while you are still alive. There could be a scenario when you are in a car accident, have a sudden medical emergency, or any other event that prevents you from making decisions. If you don’t have advance directives in place, your loved ones will face many challenges.
Your loved ones will be in a position where they will be forced to go through a lengthy and complex legal process to become your legal guardian. Even if and when they are successful, they will be in a position where they have to make medical decisions for you without knowing what you would have wanted. Some of the documents that fall under the category of advance directives are:
- Power of attorney - legal and financial decisions
- Designation of a healthcare surrogate - medical decisions
- Living will - instructions to your healthcare surrogate if you want to be on artificial life support
Family First Firm
Though there are other documents, we have gone over the ones that have almost universal applications. Every adult should strongly consider having these. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to speak with one of our attorneys.