THE FOUR MOST IMPORTANT ESTATE PLANNING DOCUMENTS
Procrastination. Denial. Delusion. Ignorance. All common reasons used for justifying the delay in writing out one’s last will and testament. Though most responsible adults understand and recognize the need for estate planning documents, many of us continue to put off the preparation of even the most basic of wills or even a trust. Whether it’s just a tendency to put off what we don’t want to think of as the inevitable, or a lack of knowledge regarding the process and steps required, we seem to use whatever excuse we can to avoid having to face the reality of our own mortality. With more than half of Americans without a will or trust drawn up, a host of private property holdings are left in probate and up to the courts to figure out. It is estimated that probate procedures cost American families more than $2 billion a year, with almost $1.5 billion going to lawyers’ fees. However, protecting your family’s estate is actually quite simple and comes down to just a few simple documents. As Needham’s premier estate planning attorney, we recommend you start with these basic estate planning documents for protection against probate:
- Last Will and Testament – A binding legal document that states how you want your property and assets divided after your death. It also allows you to name an executor and guardians for any minor children.
- Living Will – Should you become incapacitated or too ill to make decisions on your own behalf, a living will lets you have control over your health care, ensuring that your wishes are carried out. A living will, also referred to as a health care proxy, also allows you to create a health care power of attorney who is responsible for ensuring that the stipulations of your living will are adhered to.
- Financial Power of Attorney – This document lets you name the manager of your estate when and if you should need one and under what circumstances and when that power becomes effective.
- Living Trust – A living trust protects your estate from probate and saves a significant amount of money for your family. Through this document you designate assets to be placed “in trust” for beneficiaries, to be distributed upon your death.
Those seeking legal advice and assistance regarding the aforementioned documents are encouraged to contact the Law Office of Alan H. Segal at 781-214-7129 for a free consultation.