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What are some basic estate planning needs?

When arranging to take care of your loved ones after your death becomes a concern, it’s necessary to consult an expert in matters of estate planning and probate. An experienced attorney can help you determine your needs and how best to ensure your last wishes will be met. Even so, it may be helpful to learn about the basic needs you may require.

Wills and Trusts

It doesn’t get much more basic than this and these documents are primarily what people think of in considering estate planning. Today, the growing trend is to draft both a will and a trust. The will determines practical matters like custody of minor children and your chosen executor. The trust determines where your assets are divided. While a will also can serve this purpose, a will is subject to probate. During this process, assets are liquidated to pay taxes and settle debts. Conversely, money left in a trust is more readily distributed to beneficiaries.

Durable Power of Attorney

This is just as important as your will because it determines what will happen in the event you become incapacitated. An injury or illness could render you unable to speak for yourself, but a durable power of attorney can speak on your behalf. Without choosing a trusted individual to act for you in this way, decisions may be left up to the courts. In that event, your wishes may not be carried out.

Medical Power of Attorney

This is similar to the durable power of attorney in that it appoints an individual to speak on your behalf in the event you can’t speak for yourself. However, it differs in what responsibilities the power of attorney holds. In this case, the medical power of attorney makes decisions related to your healthcare. This can mean anything from making decisions on treatment options to deciding to terminate life support. As is true with the durable power of attorney, it’s important to select someone you trust.

Letter of Intent

This is something you personally write, which is to be read by your executor or beneficiary. These are instructions, or they might otherwise be known as your final wishes. In the letter, you may designate special instructions for a particular asset or request specific burial arrangements.

Selecting Guardians

If you have minor children, you’ll also want to make sure you select guardians for them. In selecting someone, you must choose someone you trust, but you also must make sure they want the responsibility of raising your children. Additionally, you want to select someone who is financially stable and able to care for your children.

These are just a few of the important decisions you will need to make in setting your final wishes in order. Often, items are overlooked and left up to the probate court, which may not decide matters according to your wishes. For this reason, it’s important to consult skilled estate planning attorney. Contact Albertson & Davidson, LLP today for your initial consultation and learn more about what basics you’ll need to consider in establishing your final wishes.
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