Estate planning involves organizing your personal and financial documents in order to deal with the possibility of health consequences, mental incapacity and death. By organizing these important papers, you can help your family get through challenging times and properly distribute your personal belongings. As a Los Angeles fee-only financial planner, here are the estate planning documents needed to build and review your estate plan.
Estate Planning Documents
This document identifies your wishes for your medical care, distribution of your property and the care of any minor children. It’s important to have your will signed by you and your witnesses as potential issues can arise from other forms of wills.
This document allows you to control assets while you live and then transfers assets to designated beneficiaries or trustees at your passing. Establishing a living trust can save time, money and effort down the road. Assets within a living trust are included in the gross estate, but they provide for a more private estate by avoiding the probate process.
Designated Beneficiaries, Transfer on Death (TODs), Payable on Death (PODs)
This document serves as an arrangement for accounts held at banks and brokerage firms. The designated beneficiary form assigns how the assets in an account are distributed at your passing. This cannot be established for a trust account as the trust paperwork states a predetermined process. When used, assets earmarked by this document supersede your living will. This document helps avoid the probate process but the assets are included in your gross estate.
Health Care Power of Attorney
This document gives your trusted contact(s) the authority to make health care and medical decisions when you are no longer able to make them.
Durable Power of Attorney
This document gives your trusted contact(s) the authority to take care of your financial accounts and transactions on your behalf. When dealing with financial accounts, it’s important to recognize the importance of a durable power of attorney (DPOA) when comparing to the more commonly offered limited power of attorney (LPOA) and full power of attorney (FPOA). A DPOA requires legal documents to be drafted and allows your trusted contact to continue acting on your behalf in the event that you become incapacitated. A LPOA and FPOA are handled directly through the bank or brokerage, are more restrictive and not a legally enforceable document in the event that you become incapacitated.
Next Steps: Reviewing Your Estate Plan
Now that you have the documents in place, the next step is to review your documents on a regular basis and as life changes.
The Balance: Living Will vs. Living Trust
Los Angeles Fee-Only Financial Advisor
Still have questions in determining which documents are needed to build your estate plan? Meet with a Los Angeles fee-only financial planner in-person or online.