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Estate Planning and What Happens to Your Stuff After You Pass

Man inglasses reviewing a Will with a senior couple

By Anica Oaks

Young or middle-aged with financial assets or tangible possessions should consider making a Last Will and Testament. This legal document, which is usually prepared with the help of a lawyer, indicates how your possessions will be distributed when you have passed on. A Will helps to prevent confusion and conflicts among relatives and friends so that everyone knows your wishes about these things. An estate plan is more than a Last Will and Testament. Here are some of the documents and provisions that are often included.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) document enables a designated person to handle your legal, medical, or financial affairs. That person could handle all of these things for you, or you can take care of some yourself. You can also name more than one person to handle different areas of your business. While you can specify the rights and responsibilities the POA would have, typically these include writing checks on your behalf, paying bills, and making decisions without necessarily consulting you. Be sure you and your POA understand the powers that are named and granted in the document before signing it. Often, the document must be notarized and witnessed, so check with an attorney when preparing a POA document.

Living Will

Many people have a Living Will that is prepared similarly to a Last Will and Testament. The Living Will states your wishes if you should become unable to speak for yourself due to a medical condition, such as a stroke, a coma, or extreme debilitation. This document will indicate whether you want to be resuscitated if you have a heart attack, for example, or whether you want to become an organ donor in case of a terminal injury or illness. Discuss this document with your doctor and loved ones to ensure your wishes and directives are clearly understood by all.

Tangible vs. Intangible Property

When preparing all these documents, keep in mind your intangible as well as your tangible assets. Real estate, vehicles, and personal effects like jewelry. But you will also need to think about other responsibilities like minor children, pets, and investments. For tangibles, you could recommend a reliable company like Christofferson Moving & Storage to transport and store your belongings to save your loved ones an extra step. Consult with your family when planning for the management of intangible assets.

Make an estate plan now to help those who will be trying to help you. You can make it easier on everyone by planning ahead so that everything falls into place when the time comes.

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