8 Documents You Need for Estate Planning

Want to leave behind a positive legacy for your family? Time to finally face the estate-planning tasks you've been putting off.

Nobody particularly enjoys thinking about a time when they will no longer be around to support their family. However, unless you want to leave behind a mess for your loved ones to deal with in the event of your death, it is important that you finally sort out the estate-planning tasks you've been meaning to do and finalize your will.

However, if you are like most people, you may not even be sure what documents you need to get your affairs in order. Keep reading for a list of documents you may need according the expert estate planning attorneys at Icard-Merrill.

1. Last Will

Your last will and testament is the document most people are familiar with. It is where you can specify what happens to your children, pets and possessions after you pass away. The will is also where you state your funeral provisions if you have any, as well as who your beneficiaries are and how your assets should be distributed.

If you are married, both you and your spouse should each have a separate will. You can change or add to your will later on.

2. Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust is an all-inclusive legal document that manages your assets while you are alive and mentally capable, provides for your disability and disburses your assets after you're gone. A living trust is "revocable" because you have the option to change it if so desired.

Unlike a will, a trust can be used to distribute your assets before or after your death. If you have considerable property or wealth, trusts can also provide tax savings. You will need to consult with an experienced trust attorney if you want to set up a living trust.

3. Financial Power of Attorney

Appointing an agent to act on your behalf is another important step in the event you are unable to manage your financial assets and/or carry out your everyday financial affairs. This can be done by completing a power of attorney form.

4. Medical Power of Attorney

In addition to appointing a power of attorney for your finances, it is also critical you appoint someone who can act on your behalf to make health care decisions if you are not able to do so yourself.

5. Living Will

The living will prevents you from being hooked up to artificial life support machines in the event you are in an irreversible coma, prolonged vegetative state or an otherwise terminal stage of life. This is where you can specify how long doctors are to continue providing life support and using which methods—that way your family isn't forced to make these difficult decisions on their own.

6. Organ Donation

The organ donation form lets your family and doctors know that you wish to be an organ donor and potentially save the lives of up to 8 people.

7. Appointment of Temporary Guardians for Your Children

Your will covers what happens to your dependents if you pass away, but what if you have a serious illness or injury? Appointing temporary guardians to care for your children (under 18) in these type circumstances is imperative. This will require a separate power of attorney document.

8. First Responders

By completing a first responders document, you authorize an emergency professional such as a police officer or fireman to stay with you children until one of your named guardians are able to arrive and take custody. This keeps your children from being put in protective custody or foster care if your guardian can't be reached.

Planning a will and testament can be a confusing and difficult process. If you are need of experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel on matters pertaining to wealth protection, trust and financial planning, or asset management, contact Icard Merrill today for a professional and comprehensive consultation.

And continue browsing our blog and other legal resources for more helpful information about estate planning, family law and much more!

** All information contained herein does not constitute legal advice. Contact an attorney to discuss your individual case