It is no secret that death is a topic that no one enjoys talking about. When it comes to talking about one's own death, it is equally not fun. An estate plan is so much more than a Will. While a Will is necessary to address who gets your property, a well-crafted estate plan is just as important. This plan consists of several documents that address who makes all decisions for you if something happens as well as what happens when you pass away. Here are the documents you need to consider when crafting your estate plan:
- A Power of Attorney: There are three types of powers of attorney. A Financial Power of Attorney, named by you, makes your financial decisions when you are incapacitated. A Healthcare Power of Attorney determines who makes your healthcare decisions in the event that you become incapacitated. A Durable Power of Attorney combines the Financial Power of Attorney and Healthcare Power of Attorney into one document so that whoever you name can make both financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf.
- An Advance Healthcare Directive: An Advance Healthcare Directive is also known as a DNR, or a Do Not Resuscitate Directive.This document allows you to make your wishes known if you are in a situation where you cannot make decisions for yourself. Several years ago, a young woman in Florida suffered a stroke and was left in a persistent vegetative state. Her husband and her parents had a long-drawn-out, well-publicized court battle to determine her wishes. Her husband wanted to withdraw life support, asserting that she would not want to live in a vegetative state. Her parents opposed her husband's request. The court battle played out for several years before the court made its decision. If this young woman had an Advance Healthcare Directive, then her husband and parents would have been able to know her wishes and a court battle would not have been necessary.
- Last Will and Testament: A Last Will and Testament dictates your wishes as to the settlement of your affairs when you pass away. A Last Will and Testament (commonly known as a Will) allows you to name who you want to settle your affairs (commonly known as a Personal Representative or an Executor) and, if you want to make any gifts to favorite nephews, nieces, or other relatives, you can spell out those gifts as well. A Will also allows you to provide for your spouse and children if you so choose. As such, a well-thought-out Will is a very important document that you want to make sure is part of your estate plan.
- A Revocable Trust: A Revocable Trust is not necessarily a document that is required in an estate plan, but it is useful under certain circumstances. Particularly, a Revocable Trust allows you to place assets into your name, usually with yourself named as a Trustee, which allows you to manage your assets, but preserves them and directly passes them to the beneficiary of your Trust under the circumstances that you desire. This document is particularly useful for passing real estate to your heirs. Also, placing your assets into a revocable trust helps protect your assets from lawsuits and creditors, making sure that your legacy is distributed to your heirs.
If you would like to know more about estate plans or need an experienced attorney to help you craft an estate plan, please feel free to contact the staff and attorneys at LaCourse Law for a free consultation. Call us at 918-744-7100, or fill out the form on our website at https://www.lacourselaw.com.