if you’re looking into estate planning, you likely have a decent grasp of the benefits of sitting down and documenting your final wishes. Estate planning isn’t just a process that aims to make sorting out who inherits your property after you’re gone easier, though. It can also give your loved ones the right to manage your financial and medical affairs if you suffer an incapacitating injury or illness that prevents you from doing so yourself.
There are four main must-haves that you’ll want to have form part of your estate plan to ensure that everyone handles whatever eventualities may arise as per your wishes:
1. A will
This legally binding document details the assets that you have. It also describes your expectations as it relates to what you’d like to happen after you pass away. Your assets would end being distributed according to California’s intestate succession laws if you were to die without a will in place.
2. Beneficiary designation forms
Testators can generally detail who their beneficiaries are in their will. You must take time to ensure that any insurance policy or retirement account beneficiary appointments align with the ones you’ve included in your will since a will cannot override those. Keeping the copies together can make it easier for your heirs to understand where your assets are located.
3. A health care directive
Once you become an adult, you gain the right to make your own medical decisions instead of your parents doing it for you. You owe it to yourself to draft a health care directive spelling out the type of medical care you’d want to receive if something were to happen to you and you could not relay that information yourself.
4. A financial power of attorney
A financial power of attorney is of similar importance as a health care directive. It allows you to give a specified loved one the right to manage your finances if you suffer an incapacitating illness or injury and cannot do so yourself.
Plenty of other estate planning documents are important to draft to protect your interests and ensure that your final wishes are carried out as planned. It’s critical that you draft the four described above first. You can always add to your plan as your needs change in the future.