Estate Planning documents
Several of the following documents are typically used as part of the estate planning process:
A Will, also known as a Last Will and Testament, is used to transfer property held in your name to the person and/or organization you wish to give it to. A will also names someone you select to be your Executor to carry out your instructions, and names a Guardian if you have minor children. A Will only becomes effective upon your death, after which it is admitted to probate.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (also known as a Health Care Proxy) designates a person whom you want to make decisions in regards to your health care treatment in the event that you are unable to provide “informed consent.”
A Living Will (also known as a Directive to Physicians) is an advance directive giving both doctors and hospitals your instructions regarding the nature and extent of the care you want to receive in the event that you suffer permanent incapacity, such as an irreversible coma.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Property appoints a person to act for on your behalf in handling financial matters should you be unable or unavailable to do so.
A Living Trust can be used to hold legal title to and provide a mechanism to manage your property. You can select the person you want (including yourself) as the Trustee to carry out your instructions in the Trust and name one or more Successor Trustees to take over if you cannot. Unlike a Will, a Trust becomes effective immediately, continues during your lifetime, even in the event of your incapacity, and continues after your death. Most Trusts are “revocable,” which allow the creator of the Trust to make future changes, modifications and even to terminate it. Trusts will also assist you in avoiding or minimizing the expenses, delays, and publicity of probate.
A Family Limited Partnership can be used to own and manage your property in a manner similar to a Trust, but the difference is it allows the employment of additional tax planning techniques. Family Limited Partnerships are used for people who have large estates and thereby have a need for specialized estate planning in order to minimize both federal and state estate/death/inheritance taxes along with providing elements of asset protection.