What Is Typically Included in an Estate Plan?

Your estate plan gives your loved ones detailed instructions for the distribution of your property and assets, healthcare should you need it, and financial protection. An estate plan can be a valuable tool to protect and safeguard what you’ve worked so hard to achieve. It can also provide for healthcare or financial decisions should you become unable to care for yourself.

Here is what is typically included in an estate plan:

Financial Power of Attorney (Durable Power of Attorney). The financial power of attorney can be the most important document you have in your estate plan. It designates someone of your choosing to be in charge of your assets and finances if you become incapacitated and unable to make or communicate decisions about financial matters. 

Healthcare Directives (Healthcare Power of Attorney). These documents are also very important for your estate plan. They give your loved ones instructions on how you want your healthcare to continue if you can no longer take care of yourself and can allow someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. You can also provide detailed instructions on end-of-life care should you ever need it.

Will or Trust. A Last Will and Testament is a document in which you may assign the distribution of your assets. You may choose to give certain assets to people in a will – a family heirloom you want to leave for a specific child, for instance. In a similar fashion, a trust can hold your assets for minor children, disabled family members, or other loved ones who may need a helping hand. In a trust, you will choose someone to allocate the assets according to your wishes, ensuring that your family is cared for well into the future.

Property Deeds. Deeds can be structured to allow you to designate who will take control of your property after you pass away. You can choose to pass down your property to an individual or multiple people. 

It is important to remember that although most estate plans include these documents, yours could require fewer or additional documents. Your situation and circumstances are unique, so it is best to speak with an attorney about which paperwork you should consider. Customization is key in any estate plan.