What Are the Key Components in an Estate Plan?

Even though you may think a will is all you need to handle your affairs after your death, it might not be enough to adequately protect your assets and provide for your loved ones. While it may seem morbid to think so far ahead, establishing a solid estate plan is essential and should be handled sooner rather than later. Without a reliable estate plan, your estate could be thrown into probate, which would create much more work for your family, not to mention the expense. Instead of risking your family’s future, make sure you create an estate plan you can be confident in and your family can rely on.

About Estate Planning

An estate plan can contain several different documents, all of which depend on the particular wishes of the property owner and the different types of assets they own. A good estate plan will protect your assets while you’re living, allowing you to retain control of whichever funds or trusts you wish to while also guarding them for the future. Assets and properties aside, your estate plan should also protect your health and well-being by upholding your wishes, ensuring that your preferences have a voice. Your estate plan can also enable you to appoint someone you trust to handle your affairs if you cannot.

Estate Planning Documents

Each estate plan is unique in that it can contain several different documents depending on the needs of the individual. Some of the most common documents in an estate plan include:

  • Will: A simple will, also called a last will and testament, is a legally-binding statement that declares who will inherit your estate. You can designate which loved ones will receive which properties, possessions, and other assets, and can even appoint guardians for your minor children.
  • Power of Attorney: A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint someone you trust, usually a spouse, adult child, or other relative, to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so. The person you appoint will be permitted to manage your finances, pay your bills, and make other crucial economic decisions on your behalf.
  • Advanced Healthcare Directive: Healthcare directive can be used to make key medical decisions ahead of time. If you develop dementia, are in a coma, or are otherwise unable to state your medical preferences, this directive can ensure your wishes are honored. One document in the directive, a living will, is a written statement dictating your health care preferences. The advanced healthcare directive will also include a healthcare proxy, which appoints someone you trust to handle any medical decisions on your behalf.
  • Trusts: A trust is a legal arrangement that allows you to pass along certain properties or assets to a beneficiary. However, the trust is handled by a trustee on behalf of the beneficiary until the beneficiary is able to do so on their own, usually by reaching a certain age. Depending on the type of trust you create, whether revocable or irrevocable, you could choose to retain control of the assets within the trust until you die, or you could turn over all control to the trustee. Trusts can help avoid probate and allow the creator a substantial amount of control in how their assets are distributed to the beneficiary or beneficiaries.

If you are ready to establish an estate plan or revise your existing estate plan, our firm can help. We can evaluate your current financial situation, properties, investments, and discuss your goals moving forward. Our goal is to help create a personalized estate plan to reflect your wishes and protect your assets.

Contact Patton | Pittman Attorneys to discuss your case with our Clarksville estate planning lawyers.

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