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What Do I Need to Include in My Estate Plan?

What Do I Need to Include in My Estate Plan?

Most people assume that having a will is all that they need for their estate plan. However, there is a lot more that goes into creating a well-rounded estate plan. Your estate plan should be designed to avoid probate, save on estate taxes, and protect your assets. Appointing someone to act for you if you become disabled is also an important provision that should be included in your estate plan.

At minimum, your estate plan should include a durable power of attorney and a will. Having a trust is another useful way to avoid probate and help manage your estate both during your life and after you are gone. In addition to power of attorney and a will, you should also include medical directives to inform others about your wishes regarding end-of- life care. Below, we explain what should be included in your estate plan in more detail.

Will

A will is a legally-binding directive of who will receive your property after you have died. Without a legal will, the state gets to decide how your property is distributed. It is important to note that a will only covers probate property. Jointly-owned property, property in trust, life insurance proceeds, and property with a named beneficiary aren't covered under a will.

Trust

A trust is an arrangement where one person holds legal title to property for another person. Establishing a trust can help you avoid probate. Having a revocable living trust that terminates when you die, will ensure that any property in the trust will immediately be passed along to the beneficiaries you have appointed.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney allows you to appoint a person to act in your place and make financial decisions if you ever become incapacitated. Without a durable power of attorney, no one will be able to represent your financial interests unless a court appoints a conservator or guardian on your behalf. Not only does this process of appointing a conservator or guardian take time and money, but the judge appointed to your case might not choose a person you would prefer.

Medical Directives

A medical directive can include a number of different documents, including a health care proxy, a durable power of attorney for health care, a living will, and medical instructions. The documents you need to create your medical directives vary from state to state, so it is advised that you consult with an attorney to decide what you need for your particular situation.

Do you need help planning your estate? Contact our Long Island estate planning attorney to schedule a free consultation today.

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