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Estate Planning Documents You Shouldn't Be Without

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Estate Planning Documents You Shouldn't Be Without Powered By Docstoc
					You Shouldn’t Be Without
       Each estate plan is as unique as the person
      making the plan, but there are some common
     categories of documents that should be found in
                     every estate plan




                             Sexton Law Office | www.Arkansas-EstatePlanning.com   1

Deborah A. Sexton
Despite the fact that most people realize the need for an estate plan, a shocking 60
percent of Americans do not have one. The reasons people give for why they have yet
to sit down and create an estate plan are varied and numerous; however, the reason
often boils down to the fact that people don’t understand estate planning and,
therefore, simply don’t know where to start.


Of course, each estate plan is as unique as the person making the plan, but there are some common
categories of documents that should be found in every estate plan. In addition, there are some
documents within each category that are frequently found in an estate plan. Each of these documents
will make the process of probating your estate less costly and less time consuming and/or will make
decisions in the event you become incapacitated much easier.


The Basics


Last Will and Testament

Your will is the foundation upon which your entire estate plan
is built. Your will directs how your assets will be gifted upon
your death and/or references other important documents that
further direct gifting. Your will also appoints your executor and
can nominate a guardian for minor children.



 Letter of Instruction                                   Trusts

 This is an informal letter that provides                Today, a large percentage of estate plans
 important information to your family or loved           include at least one trust. A trust can also be as
 ones regarding your estate. It can include              simple as a pet trust that provides for the
 something as simple as how to winterize your            family dog to a complicated charitable split-
 house to something as complex as                        interest trust that is funded with millions of
 instructions regarding where assets are                 dollars.
 hidden or documents kept.



                                               Sexton Law Office | www.Arkansas-EstatePlanning.com   2
Proof of Ownership

      Deeds to real property – even if the property will pass without the need to go through
       probate, make sure the original deed can be located.

      Vehicle titles

      Cemetery deeds

      Stocks, bonds and investment accounts – along with original certificates, create and
       include a list of accounts, where the account is held, account number and any necessary
       codes or passwords needed to access the account.

      Partnership agreements, corporation documents – if you have an ownership interest in a
       business be sure to include the operating agreements as well as any buy-sell agreements
       or other relevant legal documents pertaining to the business.


Healthcare

      Family and personal medical
       history – this can be helpful in the
       event of your sudden
       incapacitation.

      Living Will – this allows you to
       determine ahead of time what
       types of medical treatments you
       want and which ones you will
       refuse in the event that you
       become terminally ill.

      Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney – this allows you to appoint someone to make
       healthcare decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

      Authorization to release medical history – federal law prevents access to your healthcare
       information by anyone but you and those whom you authorize. By completing an
       authorization ahead of time, you will make it easier for loved ones to handle insurance
       matters if the need arises.


                                              Sexton Law Office | www.Arkansas-EstatePlanning.com   3
                                                       Life Insurance and Retirement

                                                              Life insurance policies

                                                              401(k) Accounts

                                                              Individual Retirement Accounts

                                                              Pension documents

                                                              Annuity contracts




Funeral Arrangements

     Pre-paid funeral contract – if you have pre-paid for your funeral and burial, keep the
      contract and proof of payment in this folder.

     Funeral trust – creating a funeral trust is a popular method for handling funeral
      arrangements. Not only can you make clear your wishes, but many people choose to fund
      the trust with a life insurance policy that pays out into the trust, making the issue of cost a
      non-issue for grieving family members and loved ones.

     Personal Memorandum – even if you did not pre-arrange and/or pre-pay for your funeral
      and burial, you can still take the time to create a personal memorandum that sets forth
      what your wishes are. Although not legally binding in most states, it will help your loved
      ones make important decisions at a highly emotional time.

                                             Sexton Law Office | www.Arkansas-EstatePlanning.com   4
Digital Assets                                              Power of Attorney

      Online banking – create a list of all                       Childcare POA – this is something you
       bank accounts or investment accounts                         should keep on hand if you have
       that you access online. In addition,                         minor children. In the event that you
       provide your log-in name and                                 are away on business or vacation and
       password for each one.                                       someone else is caring for them, a
                                                                    childcare POA will give the caregiver
      Social Media – create a list of social
                                                                    the legal authority to consent to
       media accounts that you use such as
                                                                    emergency medical treatment if the
       Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Include
                                                                    need ever arises.
       log-in information, passwords and
       instructions for how to handle the                          Limited POA – this can be used to
       account if you die or become                                 appoint someone as your agent for
       incapacitated.                                               specific purchases such as to facilitate
                                                                    the sale of a vehicle while you are out
      Bills – if you pay bills online, or if bills
                                                                    of town.
       are set to be paid automatically, include
       them on this list. As with other digital                    Durable general POA – this is a very
       assets, also include log-in and                              powerful document as it gives your
       passwords.                                                   appointed agent the legal authority to
                                                                    act on your behalf in almost all
                                                                    situations.




Personal Documents

      Marriage certificate

      Divorce certificate

      Birth certificates

      Baptism certificates

      Diplomas/Awards



                                                  Sexton Law Office | www.Arkansas-EstatePlanning.com   5
Each of these documents serves a specific purpose within your estate plan; however,
understanding each document’s individual function is not enough.

Many of these documents also work in concert with other documents in your estate plan. A life
insurance policy, for example, might be transferred into a funeral trust which includes your wishes as
expressed in your personal memorandum. By working with an experienced estate planning attorney
you can ensure that all of your documents work in harmony with one another to maximize the
available benefits and minimize your tax exposure as well as the possibility of a challenge to your
estate.


References


Forbes, 5 Key Estate Planning Documents to Help Avoid Family Conflicts

AARP, The Cornerstones of an Estate Plan




          FREE Estate Planning Report
            Estate Planning is Important to Preserving Your Legacy
           Estate Planning Can Help Ensure Your Legacy is Passed On

                       Click the Image to Download Your
                       Free Estate Planning Report Today


  This free report highlights the following:

  1. What Estate Planning documents are right for your specific needs

  2. How to protect your estate from bargain hunters, divorce, or lawsuit

  3. How you set milestone-based rewards for specific heirs that are not of
     age




                                                    Sexton Law Office | www.Arkansas-EstatePlanning.com   6

				
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Description: Each estate plan is as unique as the person making the plan, but there are some common categories of documents that should be found in every estate plan. In addition, there are some documents within each category that are frequently found in an estate plan. Each of these documents will make the process of probating your estate less costly and less time consuming and/or will make decisions in the event you become incapacitated much easier.