Estate planning needs to be comprehensive to be effective.
Have you ever tried putting together a piece of furniture from a box?
You know, that bookshelf you bought at the store no one seems to know how to pronounce?
Have you ever lost one of the pieces during assembly?
The result is not ideal.
The furniture does not function and you are frustrated.
Missing part of your estate plan is a lot like that.
The results, however, are far more devastating.
According to a recent WTHR 13 article titled “The 5 legal documents every adult should have,” there are five key parts to an effective estate plan.
Missing one of these parts can cause you and your loved ones much grief.
What are they?
Contrary to popular belief, a last will and testament has no power to do anything while you are alive.
What would happen should you become incapacitated?
Who would manage your financial affairs on your behalf to ensure bills, rent, taxes, or mortgages are paid?
The general durable power of attorney solves this issue.
Through it, you name a trusted agent to handle these fundamental financial chores on your behalf.
Health Care Power of Attorney.
Like its kissing cousin, the general durable power of attorney, a health care power of attorney is effective when you are incapacitated.
Rather than covering financial affairs, the agent named here will make your health care decisions.
It is important to discuss your health care treatment wishes with this agent before her services are required.
Last Will and Testament.
A last will is the most well-known estate planning document.
It gains its power after you die, if given to the probate court where you resided within six months in Kansas or within one year in Missouri.
Through a last will, you can distribute your assets and also name a guardian for any minor children.
Without a last will, the probate court applies one-size-fits-all state intestacy law to your estate and loved ones.
Health Care Treatment Directive.
This critical document is essential, especially if you are in critical condition health-wise.
It specifically address end-of-life care.
Here you designate what treatments you would or would not like under a variety of scenarios.
Revocable Living Trust.
Not all estate plans require a revocable living trust, but it can be one of the best tools in the estate planning toolkit you may have.
A revocable living trust can make passing assets simpler by avoiding probate, especially if you have complex assets or real estate in multiple states.
Is there more to estate planning than you expected?
You are not alone.
Take steps now to create a comprehensive plan to meet your needs.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney who has been there and done that.
Reference: WTHR 13 (April 17, 2019) “The 5 legal documents every adult should have”