Creating a comprehensive estate plan is one of the most important gifts you will ever give to yourself and to your loved ones. A Last Will and Testament will likely serve as the foundation for your plan; however, there are other documents that should often be prepared with a Last Will and Testament in order to ensure that your estate plan achieves all of the various objectives you have for your plan. Because of the unique nature of an estate plan, no two plans will be identical, meaning that not all plans include the same additional documents. There are, however, some commonly used documents, including:
Power of attorney – this is used to give an Agent the authority to act on your behalf in legal matters.
Power of attorney for health care – this is a specialized power of attorney used solely to give someone the authority to make healthcare decisions for you should you be unable to make them yourself at some point in the future.
Living Will – a living will allows you to express your wishes with regard to end of life medical treatment now so that your wishes will be honored should you be unable to express those wishes when the time comes
DNR form – a “Do Not Resuscitate” or DNR form is used to tell rescue or emergency responders that you do not wish them to attempt to resuscitate you should they arrive on the scene and you be unconscious and/or unresponsive.
Trust agreement – a trust agreement allows you to place assets in “trust” with a Trustee of your choice for the benefit of a third party beneficiary. The Trustee has many duties and responsibilities, including managing the trust assets and administering the trust. Trusts offer a wide variety of estate planning benefits such as tax and probate avoidance, privacy and control over assets after gifting, and asset protection.
Funeral arrangements – writing out your wishes with regard to your funeral and burial will help your loved ones during their time of grief. If you already planned and paid for your funeral you will leave a copy of the contract.
Letter of instruction – this is somewhat of a “catch-all” because it can have anything you want in it that has not already been covered elsewhere.
If you have additional questions or concerns about your own estate plan and/or any of the additional documents commonly used in an estate plan, contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash, Nash, Bean & Ford, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.
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