But a will is just one of a number of different types of estate planning documents you might need in order to ensure that your health care decisions and final wishes regarding your property are honored. What else do you need?
Here are three estate planning documents that you'll probably want to consider:
Power of attorney. Powers of attorney generally grant family members or loved ones the power to make certain decisions for you. There are three types of power of attorney, each of which can be an important tool in the estate planning toolkit. The general power of attorney grants its holder power over a broad range of legal, financial, and medical decisions. The durable power of attorney is used to give its holder the power over medical or financial decisions in the event the grantor is incapacitated. A special power of attorney is used to grant the power for a particular business transaction.
Need help getting your family's legal affairs in order? Get in touch with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney in your area today.
Advance medical directive. Also known as a living will, an advanced medical directive dictates the type of life-prolonging treatment an individual wishes to receive in the event she's unable to communicate her desires. For example, an advanced medical directive could allow an individual who does not wish to be kept alive in a vegetative or irreversibly comatose state to ensure that those wishes are honored.
Basic will or trust. A basic will is the most common way for people to direct the distribution of their estate -- real estate, money, possessions, etc. -- after they're deceased. Increasingly, however, wills are being augmented, or even replaced in some instances, by the use of trusts. Trusts are instruments created either during a person's lifetime, or in a person's will, that grant rights in that person's property to others known as beneficiaries. There are a wide variety of trusts, offering a wide range of potential benefits, from tax-savings to avoiding probate.
For help with these documents and to learn more about other tools that may help you accomplish your estate planning goals, contact an experienced estate planning lawyer near you.