Which tools should I use when forming an estate plan?

If you are thinking about creating an estate plan, you are making a thoughtful and brave choice. It is not always easy to contemplate death and the potential for a time when you remain alive but are unable to make financial and medical decisions for yourself. At its core, estate planning is a matter of self-respect and concern for the people and causes that you care most about. By drafting an estate plan, you are making your wishes known and taking a burden off of your loved ones, who will now know exactly what you want and how to enforce those wishes.

Estate plans are unique living documents which reflect the unique wishes, priorities, circumstances and values of the individuals who create them. Therefore, you need an estate plan that reflects all these things accurately. In general, there are two estate planning tools that everyone should consider drafting.

The first foundational document is a simple will. Even if you have very little property, you likely own something of sentimental value that you would like to pass on. A will can help you do just that.

The second foundational document involves communicating your wishes about healthcare in the event that you lose the ability to make healthcare decisions for yourself. These documents are referred to differently in certain states, but an attorney will be able to obtain the paperwork required by your state.

Beyond these foundational documents, you may need others in order to communicate your wishes. An attorney can help you draft both the foundational documents and any additional documents you may need.

Source: Findlaw Law and Daily Life, “Legal How-To: Deciding Which Estate Planning Tool(s) to Use,” Brett Snider, Dec. 9, 2014

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