Many documents are essential for a good estate plan

Many Texans know that having an estate plan in place is important for protecting their assets and making sure their finances are handled according to their wishes. To many, estate planning simply means drafting a will. While this is certainly an important part of a plan, there are many more documents that should be considered as well. Even if your estate planning is very thorough, it’s important to keep your documents up-to-date, especially after big life changes such as a new child, marriage or divorce.

Aside from a will, some of the most important documents to consider preparing include a power of attorney, a health care proxy and a revocable living trust. A revocable living trust in particular can expedite your property’s transition process after death as well as making sure that your assets are managed correctly should you become incapacitated. These types of trusts also allow for greater privacy than a will.

Being incapacitated can cause just as much mayhem for a family as passing away if a solid estate plan is not in place. With life expectancies continuing to rise, incapacitation is becoming increasingly more likely before death. This is where powers of attorney come in. A durable power of attorney grants a specific person permission to make financial decisions on your behalf. Similarly, a health care power of attorney, or health care proxy, can be established to make medical decisions for you if you are no longer able to.

Once documents like these are in place, they cannot simply be forgotten. Over time, different circumstances might lead you to desire a change in your will’s beneficiaries or an adjustment in the trusts you’ve set up for your children. You might also wish to change the person you’ve established as a power of attorney. Changes in tax laws can also necessitate a review of your estate planning documents. On the whole, Texas residents who want to prevent family chaos after their death should consider the various estate planning strategies as soon as possible and then review them consistently.

Source: MainStreet, “Estate Plan Overhaul: Time to Shape Up Your Strategy” Bruce W. Fraser, Jun. 10, 2014