6 Essential Estate Planning Documents

Group preparing an estate plan

Estate planning helps families arrange their assets and their wishes in case of mental incapacity or death. Comprehensive estate planning not only enables you to decide how you want your assets to be distributed upon your death, but it can also reduce your loved ones’ stress. A comprehensive estate plan should consist of a wide variety of legal documents. Our Madison estate planning attorneys explain which estate planning documents you should have in your estate plan.

Legal Documents You Should Have in Your Estate Plan

Your estate plan should be tailored to your specific needs. Below we have put together which documents you might need to include in your estate plan depending on your needs.

#1: Last Will & Testament

If your estate planning attorney determines that you should have a will-based estate plan, then you should have a last will and testament. A last will and testament will contain a detailed list of instructions on how your property should be distributed after you die. A will can also contain provisions for designating a guardian for your children.

#2: Advanced Medical Directive

An advanced medical directive also called a medical power of attorney, allows you to choose a health care agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself. This document can also be used to choose your guardian in case you become mentally incapacitated.

#3: Living Will

A living will is useful in the event that you become mentally incapacitated. With a living trust, you can write a set of instructions to your physician and family about whether or not you would want to receive life-sustaining procedures if diagnosed with a terminal condition. It is essentially a set of wishes you would like your family to follow in the event of an accident or illness.

#4: Financial Power of Attorney

A financial power of attorney serves two purposes; first, it allows you to choose a person to manage your assets if you become mentally incapacitated or after you sign the document. Second, it allows you to transfer assets into your revocable living trust if you become mentally incapacitated before the trust has been funded.

#5: Pour-Over Will

For individuals with trust-based estate plans, a will and testament will be useful as a safety net for assets that you didn’t transfer before your death. This type of will is called a pour-over will, and it contains minimal instructions since your trust will be the main document used in your estate plan.

#6: Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust is useful for individuals who need a more elaborate estate plan. A revocable living trust has detailed instructions that cover three important periods of your life. It covers what happens when you are alive and well, what happens if you become mentally incapacitated, and after your death. A revocable trust can also help your beneficiaries avoid probate.

If you aren’t sure what legal documents you need to include in your estate plan, our Madison estate planning attorneys are here to help you. Contact us today at (608) 292-5185 to schedule a consultation! We serve clients throughout Madison, WI, and Rockford, IL.

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