Estate planning is a way to ensure your wishes come to fruition even when you are no longer able to carry them out or supervise their fulfillment. Yet, according to InvestmentNews, in 2017 only 36% of parents with minor children and 42% of adults in general in the U.S. had a living will or trust.
It is important to begin preparing for the future early to take care of your loved ones. As you do, there are certain vital estate documents you need to assemble.
1. Last will and testament
This is the document in which you specify the distribution of your assets. It is also where you appoint a guardian for any underage children in your charge.
2. Medical directive
Also referred to as a living will, an advance directive or a Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates (the latter two are Texas labels), this is where you spell out important medical decisions in case you are later unable to advocate for yourself. For example, if you fall severely ill or suffer an injury that keeps you from speaking or making choices, this document tells medical personnel your desires. Subjects you may address include if you agree to life support, if you are willing to donate your body to science and more.
3. Power of attorney
There are actually two separate types of paperwork that fall under this category. There is a general power of attorney and a medical one. The former grants your chosen person the right to handle legal and financial issues on your behalf. The latter does the same, except the representative makes medical decisions for you if you are unable to.
Having all the necessary documents ready in advance may save your heirs a great deal of time, money and hassle.