If your goals for the end of your life include protecting your loved ones from the chaos and confusion of an unplanned estate, you may have decided that this will be the year you begin building an estate plan. A well-developed estate plan can go a long way in reducing the stress that is common in the days just before and after a loved one’s death.
Nevertheless, you may be uncertain exactly which documents will provide the most protection for you, your loved ones and your assets. While every situation is different and every family unique, it may help you to learn some general information about some of the most critical estate planning documents so you can make a more informed decision.
What is available?
One of the truest demonstrations of love for a family is a well-prepared estate plan. Many families find that the documents in an estate plan prevent disputes and confusion over the wishes of the deceased and allow family members to grieve and move forward. Your estate plan can provide such guidance for your family, not only for the distribution of your assets but also for critical questions that may arise before you pass away. Some elements of a complete estate plan include the following:
- Financial power of attorney: The person you designate will manage your finances and legal matters if you become too ill to handle them yourself.
- Medical power of attorney: This trusted individual speaks on your behalf when health care providers need decisions about your care, including what treatments to withhold.
- Advance directive: As a guide for your medical power of attorney agent, this document outlines the kinds of medical treatment you expect and those actions you prefer doctors do not take under certain circumstances.
- Trust: Among other benefits, your revocable living trust holds the ownership of any assets you fund to it so those assets bypass probate.
- Will: The most commonly known estate planning tool, a will explains how you want your assets divided.
If you have these documents in place, you may have more peace of mind. Not only have you provided for your family, but you have also taken the opportunity to express your wishes. Your estate plan can spare your family the heartache of making those difficult decisions or erupting in arguments when they can’t agree on what to do.
To ensure you are making the most of the tools that are available, you would be wise to meet with an experienced Kentucky attorney who can guide you through the process and help you achieve your estate planning goals.