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  • Wendi Gundersen

The Basic Documents in an Estate Plan



Estate plans can be simple and straightforward, but they can also be quite complex. Regardless, every estate plan will include some of the same basic parts.

A Will or Pour-over Will

Every estate plan should have a will. A will is used to carry out your wishes regarding your property after you die. If you have personal belongings or real property that you want someone to have after you die, you need a will. Also, letting your loved ones know what to do with your property can ease their suffering and prevent disputes.

Another type of will is a pour-over will. If an estate plan includes a trust, a pour-over will is there to make sure all of your property ends up in the trust. It is not as detailed as a traditional will because the trust takes care of the details.

A Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows someone else to take care of your finances if you cannot do it yourself. A durable power of attorney enables you to pick the person who will control your money and property if you cannot. Without a durable power of attorney, a court may decide who controls your money and property if you cannot. And the court might not choose someone you trust or even know.

An Advance Healthcare Directive

An advance healthcare directive enables you to specify what type of healthcare you want to receive,

if you are ever incapacitated. It also enables you to choose who will make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself.

If you are incapacitated, and you do not have an advance healthcare directive, you will not get to choose who makes healthcare decisions for you. You also will not get to choose what type of care you receive.

A Nomination of Guardianship

If you have minor children, your estate plan should include a nomination of guardianship. This document will tell people who you want to care for your children if you die. If you want to have a say in who will raise your children if something happens to you, you need this document in your estate plan.

These are the basic documents you should have in your estate plan. Of course, depending on your assets you may need additional documents, such as a trust. The best way to determine what you need is to contact an estate-planning attorney.


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