What is a basic estate plan?
Every person’s situation is different but for a lack of a better term, a basic estate plan would have documents in place to foster your goals and wishes when you are (1) alive and can’t take care of things either temporarily or permanently; and (2) when you pass away to take care of the distribution of the stuff that you accumulated during your life.
Estate Planning for Issues When Alive
Typically, when think of this type of planning, we think about who would be able to act on your behalf if something happened and you were temporarily or permanently physically or mentally disabled.
Some of the documents that could help in this situation would include:
- Power of Attorney – this is a document that would appoint an agent to act on your behalf. A power of attorney can be as limited or broad as you would like. Also, within the power of attorney, you can appoint an agent to make your healthcare decisions.
- Healthcare Representative – This representative can help make healthcare decisions when you are unable to do so.
- Living Will (Healthcare Directive) – This document can explain your wishes as you are nearing death and the types of interventions that you would desire, if you were not going to survive.
Estate Planning Documents at Death
Typically, when we think of documents that would help with distribution of your stuff after your death, we think of a last will and testament; and a trust.
- A last will and testament will name a personal representative who will need to be appointed by a Court to handle your affairs after death, including accumulating your assets and distributing them according to the terms of your will.
- A trust is a document that you prepared when you are living, it could also handle issues if you became disabled. At your death, the reigns and stuff that is owned by your trust, will be managed and distributed by your trustee. If all your stuff is in the trust at the time of your death or comes into the trust by beneficiary designation after you pass away, then the trust can be managed without any court intervention.