The Most Important Estate Planning Documents

Properly planning an estate requires testators to compile extensive documentation, including financial records, title documents, deeds, wills, trust agreements, and more. All of these documents are extremely important to the estate planning process, and without them an estate plan could be declared invalid, leaving a person’s assets to be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. To learn more about what documentation you need to start planning your own estate, please contact a member of our dedicated estate planning legal team today for advice.

Last Will and Testament

Wills are perhaps the most well-known of all estate planning documents. When executed properly, these documents act as legally binding testaments, in which a testator can make general or specific gifts of certain assets to designated beneficiaries. Wills are also extremely important because they allow testators to name an executor who will oversee the probate process following a testator’s death and ensure that all assets are distributed properly. It is also possible for a testator to name a guardian for any minor children in a will. In fact, this is the only opportunity that a person has to express to a judge who a person wants to take over caretaking responsibilities in the event of his or her untimely death. Because last wills and testaments allow testators to determine how their assets are distributed, who will administer their estate, and the identity of a minor child’s guardian, these documents are considered to be some of the most important in the estate planning process.

Trust Agreements

When an estate is relatively modest, drafting a will is usually sufficient to ensure that all property is distributed according to the testator’s wishes. However, if a person has minor children, distinctive estate planning goals, or complex and diverse assets, a trust may actually be a person’s best choice for a primary estate planning document. Trusts are created by grantors, who transfer their own property to someone else. That individual then holds the property for the benefit of a third-party beneficiary.

Trust agreements are the documents used to create trusts and in so doing, set forth the primary purpose of the trust, appoint the trustee, and detail how the trust will be administered.

Advanced Health Care Directives

Advanced health care directives are forms that list a person’s health care preferences in the event that he or she later becomes incapacitated. These documents notify family members and hospitals about the types of tests, care, and treatments that they do and do not want and can also be used to empower a specific party to make health care decisions on that person’s behalf.

Power of Attorney for Asset Management

Financial power of attorney forms appoint a third party to handle one’s financial affairs. These forms can help avoid conservatorships in the event of severe illness or injury, as they allow an agent to act immediately on a person’s behalf once he or she becomes incapacitated.

Call Today to Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

To schedule an initial case evaluation with a dedicated estate planning attorney, please call Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law at 847-325-5559 today .

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