Estate planning can be a form of protection for you, your family and your assets. But this can also be a source of disagreement among family members. In order to reduce family strife, proper estate planning should be done to make sure your desires regarding the family estate are legal and clear to avoid confusion and conflicts among the loved ones you left behind.
Important Estate Planning Documents
- The Advanced Health Care Directive. This document contains your healthcare preferences and is activated the moment you are no longer able to communicate your wishes. It will guide your family, doctors and other healthcare personnel as to the treatments you want or do not want. It also names the person who is authorized to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.
- Power of Attorney for Asset Management. This document indicates the persons whom you trusted to handle your financial affairs. This can also indicate the areas of help that they can extend to you. This will help prevent conservatorship when you become incapacitated so completing this form is a must. Your agent can immediately act on your behalf as long as he or she has a durable power of attorney.
- HIPAA Release Form. The federal government passed a law that protects our health care information. This has made it difficult for family members to deal with health insurance when we are incapacitated. But completing the HIPAA release form in advance can make the accessing of your healthcare information easier for those you named in your health care directive or power of attorney. They will be the one to have to deal with the insurance matters on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so yourself.
- A will. This is a common estate planning method to transfer properties to beneficiary after a person dies. Though it is inexpensive, a will undergoes a time and money consuming probate when the grantor dies. People with modest assets can be serve best by a living trust, but living trust can also need a will for additional coverage.
- A living trust. Confidentiality, less cost, flexibility and faster distribution are just some of the feature of a living trust. Large assets and properties placed in the trust can provide some estate tax benefits. One of the downsides of a trust is that it is quite expensive to create and maintain. A trust needs to be properly funded. All real estate property and other investments should be transferred to the trust. Conflicts in distributions can be avoided later if you properly document your trust, thus allowing the trustee to dispense the property as indicated in the living trust document. Family conflicts and disputes can be avoided after you are gone.
Taking advantage of the free previewing of various estate planning documents can help you choose the correct estate planning for your circumstances. This can ensure that the proper planning documents are utilized that can save your family from confusion and conflicts when you are gone.
Source: 1-2-Law: www.12law.com