Failure to complete basic estate planning documents can cause a whole host of problems for those you leave behind. Dying intestate (without a will) means that your assets will be divided according to state law rather than your own personal wishes. It also means that the state government will get involved and charge a fee for services rendered. In other words, less of your estate will go to your heirs. If you want to avoid this unpalatable scenario, you must have several important documents in place before you pass away bankruptcy lawyer.
What You Will Need:
1. A Basic Will
This document serves two important roles: First, it names an executor, who is responsible for the disposition of your assets; second, it clearly delineates who gets what and when. Because they specialize in drafting these documents, estate planning lawyers can create a legally valid will that clearly expresses your wishes. When these wishes are recorded in writing by a legal expert, the risk of confusion, family infighting, or future legal disputes is quite low.
2. Beneficiary Forms
Life insurance, retirement, and other financial accounts are designed to pass money to others when their owners expire. But if the owner does not fill out a beneficiary form, it might be difficult to determine who is entitled to the money, because a will does not have legal force when it comes to beneficiary designation. If you have already filled out these forms, it is advisable to update or revise them from time to time. This is particularly important should your marital status change, because even if you are no longer married, it is possible to leave a sizable sum to an ex-spouse if you fail to change your list of beneficiaries.
3. Legal Power Of Attorney
It is a sad and unfortunate fact of life that most us will spend our final days in an incapacitated state due to illness or injury. But, before we pass away, there are many important legal and financial decisions that must be made. Signing a power of attorney gives a trusted friend or relative the right to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. Although it is not a decision that should be taken lightly, it is one that must be made to ensure that things are handled as quickly and smoothly as possible.
4. Advanced Medical Directives
As we mentioned, most of us will not be in a position to make responsible decisions when the end is nigh. It is for this reason that estate planning lawyers recommend adding advanced medical directives to your will. These instructions should address all end-of-life decisions, such as whether you want to be kept alive on a ventilator, so that no one is forced to assume the burden of guessing what you would have wanted. Just as with the other documents on our list, make sure you review and update your medical directives from time to time, especially when you’ve made major changes in your life.