A will may not be enough to make sure all your wishes are carried out after your die, so you may need a comprehensive estate plan. Aside from a will, the majority of estate plans include a financial power of attorney, a living trust, a living will, and other documents.
While you need more than just a will, getting a will should your first consideration when planning for your estate. A will can allow for more than just the distribution of your assets to your preferred beneficiaries. With a will, you can choose guardians for your children, decide your beneficiaries, decide which assets you beneficiaries will get from your estate, choose an executor, and more.
You can prepare your own will or have a Litvack Dessureault LLP lawyer prepare it for you as part of your estate plan. Ensure you update your estate plan periodically, particularly after life changes such as a birth of a new child or a divorce.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is a document that lets someone act on your behalf. It involves you and the trusted person to serve as your agent. This document loses legal merit when you die.
A lot of people opt for a strong power of attorney, which remains in effect even when you become incapacitated. Some powers of attorney are limited and only let your agent perform a specific action like selling real estate. Then, the power of attorney ends when the agent performs the action. Other important powers of attorney you should have include a financial power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney.
A Living Will
A living will allows your agent to make major end-of-life decisions if you are incapacitated. This document is important because your family and doctors must know your wishes for some circumstances. These include organ donations, pain medications, a Do Not Resuscitate or Do Not Intubate clause or order, hospice or palliative care, and more.
Your estate plan must include a revocable trust. But, because not everyone needs a trust, you must discuss this with your estate attorney.
A revocable living trust is a document that creates an entity for your use during your lifetime. Your assets should be transferred into the trust to fund it. While you can use the assets during your lifetime, the trust becomes the owner of your assets.
Having assets in a trust prevents them from going to probate and being distributed to beneficiaries faster than assets in a will. Also, trusts are private.