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Essential Documents for Your Estate Plan: Ensuring Your Legacy and Wishes are Honored

By Jenn Peña & Jennie Nelson

Creating an estate plan is more that just taking steps to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are taken care of after you pass away.  It also includes taking steps to have people in place to act on your behalf and in accordance with your wishes when you are your most vulnerable.  While it may not be the most pleasant task to contemplate, having a comprehensive estate plan can provide peace of mind and avoid potential conflicts and confusion among your heirs. Essential to any estate plan are several key documents that outline your instructions and wishes. Let's delve into these vital documents and their importance in securing your legacy.

  1. Last Will and Testament (Will): The cornerstone of any estate plan, a will is a legal document that outlines how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. It allows you to designate beneficiaries for specific assets, nominate guardians for minor children, and even nominate a personal representative (called an executor in some states) to manage the affairs of your estate and the distribution of your estate assets. Without a will, state laws will determine how your assets are distributed, which may not align with your wishes.
  2. Revocable Living Trust: A revocable living trust is another crucial document in estate planning, especially for those with significant assets or complex family situations. This trust allows you to transfer ownership of your assets to the trust while you're still alive. Upon your death, the assets held in the trust can pass to your beneficiaries without going through probate, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Additionally, a trust provides privacy since it doesn't become public record like a will.
  3. Advance Health Care Directive (Living Will): An advance health care directive, or living will, allows you to specify your medical preferences in case you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself. This document typically includes instructions regarding the continuation, or discontinuation, of life-sustaining treatments.
  4. Durable Powers of Attorney: Durable powers of attorney grant someone you trust the authority to make medical, financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself.  This individual, known as your agent or attorney-in-fact, can make health care decisions, manage your finances, pay bills, and handle legal matters according to your wishes.
  5. Beneficiary Designations: While not a traditional document, beneficiary designations are an essential aspect of estate planning, particularly for assets like retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and investment accounts. By designating beneficiaries for these assets after your passing, you can ensure that they pass directly to your chosen heirs outside of the probate process.

Creating an estate plan is a proactive step towards securing your legacy and ensuring that your wishes are honored when you're no longer able to voice them yourself. By having these essential documents in place, you can provide clarity and guidance to your loved ones during what can be a challenging time. Lining out your wishes is really a gift to your loved ones, allowing them time to grieve. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you draft and execute these documents effectively, taking into account your unique circumstances and goals. Remember, estate planning is not a one-time task but a process that may require periodic review and updates as your life circumstances change. Finding it difficult to get started?

 Meet Kevin Thwing with Miller & Law, P.C. 

  • Kevin is an attorney with nearly twenty years of experience in matters relating to estate planning, probate, trust administration, taxation and business and corporate matters.
  • Kevin can work with you on matters ranging from simple estate planning to complex estate and tax planning.
  • Do you also own a business?  Kevin can assist in helping to transition your business to the next generation.  
  • Kevin works with you to come up with a plan that will help you to meet your goals and objectives before a fee agreement is signed.
  • Once an overall plan has been approved, Kevin works on a flat fee basis to avoid surprises.   This flat fee encompasses your entire project, from drafting to execution.  

Reach out to Kevin about your unique situation at (303) 722-6500 or at ket@millerandlaw.com.  Please let Kevin know that you learned about him through Pursuit Wealth Planning.