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Estate Planning: 3 Extra Documents You May Need Besides Your Will

Some people think that estate planning only involves writing a last will. However, other documents are also important to the estate planning process. This article discusses some of those additional documents that can make your estate plan more complete.

Power of Attorney for Financial Matters

It is wise for you to prepare a power of attorney document that grants someone authority to act in all or some financial matters should you be incapable of performing those tasks. For example, you may authorise that person to withdraw money from your savings account to pay the mortgage on your home. Such a document will ensure that your financial affairs will be taken care of even if you are incapacitated.

Medical Affairs Power of Attorney

You should also draft a power of attorney document that gives someone permission to make decisions regarding your medical care when you cannot make those decisions on your own. For example, some medical procedures (major surgeries, for example) can only be performed when the patient or a duly authorised person signs the consent forms for the treatment/procedure to be done. The holder of the power of attorney can also enforce certain specific rules that you stated regarding how you can be treated. For example, some people say they should never be given any blood transfusion. The power of attorney document can ease the implementation of such personal preferences during your treatment.

A Living Trust

You can also write a living trust. This document places some of your assets under a trust to be used in case you become incapacitated. The trust stipulates how the appointed trustee should manage the resources generated by the assets in the trust. These can be used to cover your treatment costs while you are incapacitated. The assets in that trust can then be used to generate revenue for the other beneficiaries that you stipulated when you were setting up the trust. However, those other beneficiaries can only start benefiting from a living trust once its proceeds are no longer needed to meet your needs while you are alive and incapacitated.

Each of these documents may have specific legal provisions that they should adhere to be enforceable. Some of those documents may also affect your last will. It is therefore advisable for you to work with an experienced family lawyer so that all the estate planning documents are drafted in a way that doesn't contradict or invalidate each other.