Essential Estate Planning Documents

Julia Carlson |

61% of Americans die without leaving a will for their heirs, says a recent Harris Interactive poll for RocketLawyer, a legal website. In fact, 28% of us would rather do anything than make a will.  Without a will, a probate court decides where your property goes; it can take months—sometimes years.  Money you intended for heirs and good causes may go to pay for the cost of probate.  Do you have young children? If your will doesn’t name their guardians, a court will do it. And what about Fido and the kitties? Their future is up for grabs if your will doesn’t spell it out.  To truly sort out your estate planning, prepare these essential documents and your heirs will thank you eternally:

A will gives you a voice when you’re gone. Use it to appoint guardians and to distribute possessions, like money and jewelry. Make requests, like having your ashes scattered on Mount Kilimanjaro. Hire an attorney or make a simple will yourself, using a book or software, and have
an attorney review it. Make updates as life changes—when you marry, for instance, or divorce or have children.

Name someone to make medical decisions in case you cannot, and to enforce your wishes about treatments you do and don’t want. Combined, these documents are an
“advance directive.”
Appoint someone you trust unquestioningly to make legal decisions if you can’t.

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Securities offered through LPL Financial.  Member FINRA/SIPC.  Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.