What Documents Are Needed For Estate Planning

Steve Bliss Estate Planning AttorneyMany people believe that having an estate planning strategy merely indicates preparing a will or a trust. Nevertheless, there is far more to consist of in your estate planning to ensure all of your assets are moved seamlessly to your successors upon your death. A successful estate plan also consists of arrangements permitting your family members to access or control your properties should you become unable to do so yourself.

Here is a list of products every estate plan need to consist of:

Resilient power of attorney
Beneficiary classifications
Letter of intent
Healthcare power of attorney
Guardianship designations

Does your estate strategy measure up? Let’s take a look at each item on this checklist to make sure you haven’t left any decisions to opportunity.

Wills and Trusts

A will or trust should be one of the main parts of every estate strategy, even if you do not have significant assets. Wills ensure home is distributed according to an individual’s wishes (if drafted according to state laws). Some trusts assist limit estate taxes or legal challenges. However, just having a will or trust isn’t enough. The wording of the file is seriously crucial.

A will or trust needs to be written in a manner that is consistent with the way you’ve bequeathed the assets that pass outside of the will. For instance, if you’ve already named your sibling as a beneficiary on a retirement account or insurance coverage (possessions that generally pass outside of a will to a called recipient), you don’t want to bequeath the exact same asset to a 2nd cousin in the will due to the fact that it could result in a will object to. Not to mention that both individuals might become bitter towards each other (and you) during a legal fight.

Long Lasting Power Of Attorney

It’s crucial to draft a durable power of attorney (POA) so an agent or an individual you designate will act on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself. Absent a power of attorney, a court might be left to choose what happens to your properties if you are found to be psychologically inept, and the court’s decision might not be what you wanted.

This file can give your representative the power to negotiate realty, participate in financial transactions and make other legal decisions as if he or she were you. This kind of POA is revocable by the principal at a time of his/her picking, generally a time when the principal is considered to be physically able, or psychologically qualified, or upon death.

In many households, it makes sense for partners to set up reciprocal powers of attorney. However, in some cases it might make more sense to have another member of the family, buddy or trusted advisor who is more economically smart serve as the representative.

Recipient Designations

As noted earlier, a number of your possessions can pass to your beneficiaries without being dictated in the will (e.g. a 401( k) plan possessions). This is why it is necessary to maintain a beneficiary– and a contingent recipient– on such an account. Insurance strategies ought to contain a recipient and a contingent recipient as well since they too usually pass outside of a will.

If you do not name a recipient, or if the recipient is deceased or not able to serve, a court might be left to decide the fate of your funds. And frankly, a judge who is unaware of your scenario, beliefs or intent is not likely to make the exact same decision you would have made.

Keep in mind: Named recipients need to be over the age of 21 and psychologically qualified.
If they aren’t, a court may end up getting involved in the matter.

Letter of Intent

AVVO 5 star rating for estate planningA letter of intent is merely a file left to your executor or a beneficiary. The function is to define what you desire made with a specific asset after your death or incapacitation. Some letters of intent likewise offer funeral service details or other special requests.

While such a file might not be valid in the eyes of the law, it helps inform a probate judge of your objectives and may assist in the distribution of your properties if the will is considered void for some reason.

Health Care Power of Attorney

A health care power of attorney (HCPA) designates another individual (normally a spouse or relative) to make essential healthcare decisions on your behalf in case of incapacity.

If you are thinking about performing such a document, you should choose someone you trust, who shares your views and who would likely advise a course of action you would agree with. After all, this individual could actually have your life in his or her hands.

Lastly, a backup agent should also be recognized, in case your initial choice is unavailable or not able to act at the time required.

Guardianship Designations

While numerous wills or trusts incorporate this provision, some do not. If you have minor kids or are considering having kids, selecting a guardian is exceptionally crucial and often overlooked. Ensure the individual or couple you pick shares your views, is economically sound and is truly going to raise kids. Similar to all classifications, a backup or contingent guardian must be named too.

Missing these designations, a court could rule that your kids deal with a family member you would not have actually selected. And in extreme cases, the court might mandate that your kids become wards of the state.

The Bottom Line
There is more to estate planning than deciding how to divvy up your possessions when you die. It’s also about making certain your family members and other beneficiaries are offered and have access to your assets upon your temporary or long-term inability.


The Law Firm Of Steven F. Bliss Esq.
41593 Winchester Rd. #200
Temecula, CA 92590
Phone: +1 (951) 223-7000
Fax: +1 (858) 268-8664

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A will is a terrific place to begin, but it’s only the start speak to a great estate planning attorney today!