The words “estate planning” may evoke images of iron gates and a dusty mansion. In reality, estate planning is a set of a few simple steps that every adult should take. These steps ensure that your wishes, and not the government’s or someone else’s, are followed in the case of your death or incapacity. It includes deciding where your property goes when you die, deciding who will take care of your minor children and making sure your health care is handled the way you want it to be. Estate planning is for everyone, not just for the ultra-rich or the elderly.
A good estate plan should include at least three important legal documents: a will, an advance directive (including health care power of attorney and a living will), and a financial power of attorney. Make sure that you understand what each does, and that they fit your specific needs. These documents are not something you can buy from a store and forget about, they require reflection about your personal values and situation, discussion with family members, and should be revisited from time to time to make sure they still fit your circumstances.
The Basic Estate Planning Documents