04/26/2018










Estate Planning Documents You Should Have

Family with elderly parentsPlanning for death is an uncomfortable but necessary part of life. By planning ahead, family members and loved ones can move on after your death without worrying about financial issues. The purpose of estate planning is to decide what happens to a person, their belongings, property, and funds when they become incapacitated or die. Without a plan, families will often have to go through a lengthy and expensive legal process at a stressful time, and assets may not be distributed according to a deceased’s wishes. Read on to find out what estate planning documents all individuals should have.

Living Will, Power of Attorney, and HIPAA Release

A living will is a legal document that details a person’s wishes regarding medical treatments in the event he or she becomes incapacitated. A power of attorney document provides authorization for an individual to act on behalf of a person’s private affairs under certain circumstances. Finally, a HIPAA form authorizes the release of medical records to a person, such as a spouse, to help them make medical decisions on a loved one’s behalf.

Funeral Plans

Ideally, every person should leave a document for his or her loved ones expressing their wishes on how they should be buried and who should be notified in the event of their death. This includes where the funeral should be held, what type of ceremony, where the person would like to be buried, and how they want to be buried.

Wills, Trusts, and Deeds

Choosing between a will and trust will depend on a person’s assets. A will specifies the persons that assets should go to when a person dies; however, it doesn’t specify tax and liability issues. Trusts transfer ownership of assets instead of money. Beneficiaries named in insurance policies or retirement accounts supersede wills and trusts. A deed transfers property rights to a person after death. People who die with assets and no wills, trusts, or deeds will have their property divided according to state laws.

Insurance Policies and Retirement Accounts

Each retirement account and insurance plan including pensions, annuities, and life insurance policies should name beneficiaries. After a person has passed, money remaining in these accounts will pass to the named beneficiary without the hassle or cost of probate court. This may also include social security payments in certain cases.

Bank, Savings, Heirlooms, and Other Items

People should name beneficiaries for all of their bank and saving accounts including money markets, mutual funds accounts, stocks, and bonds. After a person’s death, money in these accounts will pass to the beneficiary without the need for probate process. People should also specify in a will or trust the people to whom precious items should go after their death. Executors of wills and trusts should also know the location of these items.

Why Hire an Estate Planning Attorney?

An estate planning attorney such as Andrew Lamkin, Esq. can help people legally determine how assets should be distributed after they have passed away. Mr. Lamkin can also guide clients with minimizing taxes and costs. To find out more about estate planning, call or fill out our contact form.



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