For many, preparing an estate plan can seem like a complicated and daunting process. Last wills, living wills revocable living trusts, powers of attorney, advance directives, probate, executors and much more. There’s no shortage of things to consider. But – where should you start?
Fortunately, for most, preparing an estate plan is a fairly simple answer.
First and foremost, make a will. It’s not complicated and simply enables you to identify who you would like your assets to pass to after your death, who you want to appoint as your executor and who you would like to act as a guardian to your children in the event of your death. That’s all fairly straightforward stuff that most people can quickly get their head around. For those with young children, they can also use their last will to create a trust for their children. That just means appointing someone to manage their children’s inheritance until such time as they are considered old enough to look after it themselves. Making a last will is a simple step in preparing an estate plan.
Next up, we would recommend a durable power of attorney. This is a simple estate planning document under which you appoint someone you trust to manage your legal and financial affairs in the event that, through illness, accident or otherwise, you are unable to manage your own affairs. Your trusted ‘deputy’ will have power to make decisions on your behalf for so long as you are unable to. Better still, you can given the as much or as little scope to do so as you please. For example, you can appoint your attorney to manage all of you affairs without restriction. You might give such authority to a family member or friend you trust implicitly. Alternately, you might give them very limited authority – such as the right to transfer money from one specific bank account to another specific bank account once per month, and in no greater amounts than $1,000 per transfer. You can be as specific as you want.
A legal and financial power of attorney can be a great tool in ensuring that your legal and financial affairs can be managed when you are unable to tend to them.
A healthcare power of attorney is similar to a financial power of attorney, except it allows your attorney to make healthcare decisions for you. They can give or withhold consent for all or specific medical treatments if you are unable to give or withhold consent yourself.
Apart from last wills and powers of attorney, you might also want to make a living will or a living trust when preparing an estate plan. We’ll cover these in detail in the next article. However, without a doubt, having a last will and power of attorney puts most people in a great position in so far as estate planning is concerned. Get those two right – and you’re definitely 90%+ there in terms of having a solid estate plan.
How Can EstateBee Help You?
For more information on last wills or powers of attorney, read some of the other articles in the Learning Center.
You can also check out our estate planning book, which is called Estate Planning Essentials. It will introduce you, in plain English, to preparing an estate plan and provide you with a clear and simple path to making an estate plan – without the need for a lawyer.
Alternatively, check out EstateBee’s online estate planning software that allows you to make an online last will and testament and online power of attorney without the cost or need to engage a lawyer. Without a doubt, our estate planning software (which is state specific) is one of the most sophisticated pieces of online estate planning software on the market and has been a market leader for over 20 years.
If you have any questions about our products or services, please contact our customer service team, who would be delighted to assist you.