Every adult needs an estate plan, but not all estate plans are identical. As an estate planning attorney in Minnesota from a firm like Johnston | Martineau, PLLP can explain, yours should reflect your individual needs and wishes. There are estate planning documents that do not take effect until after you die as well as documents that protect you if you become incapacitated. Here are some common estate planning documents that you should consider including.
You may have an idea of who should receive your assets after you die. A will is a document that allows you to express your wishes in that regard. If you do not make out a will, your assets will still be distributed after your death according to the laws of intestacy in your state. Typically, these divide assets among your closest family members. Therefore, a will is important if you want someone to whom you are not related to inherit from you.
Another important function of a will is to transfer guardianship of minor children in the event of both parents’ simultaneous demise. If you have someone in particular whom you would like to care for your children, you need to name that person as a guardian in your will. If you do not have a will or you fail to name a guardian, it falls to the court to decide who will take care of your children.
There are many different types of trusts, and they serve many different purposes, making them popular estate planning documents. Like a will, a trust is a way of transfer your assets to others after you die. Unlike a will, a trust doesn’t go through probate, and it allows you to set conditions on the circumstances under which your beneficiaries can receive their inheritances. This can allow you to preserve loved ones’ eligibility for government benefits or protect them from their own spendthrift ways. It is also a way to hold inheritance for minor children who are too young to inherit.
3. Advance Directive
While estate planning documents such as wills and trusts benefit the people you leave behind when you die, others are for your benefit while you are still alive. An advance directive describes the health care you want to receive if you become incapacitated and are no longer able to consent to your own medical treatment. Confusingly, an advance directive is sometimes also referred to as a living will, even though it has nothing to do with the testamentary will already described.
Because you never know when a catastrophic event may occur, it is a good idea to create an estate plan early. One of our attorneys can help you to decide which documents to include.