As a hammer and saw are tools used by a carpenter to construct a house, documents are the tools of an estate planner. As a number of different tools are used in carpentry, there are a number of documents used in estate planning. And as is said in construction and mechanics, you need to use the right tool for the right job.
So we have to look at what we are trying to accomplish.
Are we trying to prepare for the possibility of unavailability because we may be out of town, or perhaps disability or incapacity because of illness or age? If so, the tools we will use may include a General Power of Attorney or a Power of Attorney for Health Care. Closely related to, but not the same as a Health Care Power of Attorney, is a Living Will. There are also documents that can be used to make decisions in advance with respect to mental health care.
If we are preparing for our eventual death, there are other tools we may use. If avoiding probate is appropriate for our circumstances, we need to look at how assets are titled, we need to look at beneficiary designations, and we may want to use a trust. If there are reasons that we don’t want to avoid probate, and to plan for when we cannot avoid probate, the tool is a Will.
To learn more about these documents, follow the links. For a better understanding of how the various tools may be best applied to your own situation, please contact us.