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What is an Estate Plan?

Every adult should have a plan in place to provide for their loved ones after they die. An estate plan is a compilation of documents that provide instructions and information regarding your assets and possessions and your wishes for medical care. It is best to seek guidance from an estate planning attorney to create a group of documents that will address all of your current and future needs. If you have an estate plan in place, you should review it occasionally and make any necessary adjustments.

Who Should Have an Estate Plan?

An estate plan is not just for the wealthy or the famous. You do not have to be a millionaire to benefit from an estate plan. The plan will give your loved one’s instructions so they can carry out your wishes after your death. A comprehensive estate plan will make decisions easier for your loved ones because they know your intentions. All adults should have a will and other documents in place. If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to the Wisconsin intestate laws, which may not provide properly for those you love.

Benefits of an Estate Plan

An estate plan offers many benefits. First and foremost, you will have peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will be properly cared for after your death. A will provides details that allow you to give specific items of property and assets to particular people, even if they are not related. If you have many assets, you can help protect your loved ones with a trust. A power of attorney allows you to assign someone else with decision-making capabilities if you are incapacitated. A healthcare directive provides doctors with specific information about your health care should you become unable to do so.

What to Include in an Estate Plan

Some of the essential documents you should include in an estate plan include:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Living Trust
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Healthcare Directive

The importance of these documents cannot be understated. It is best to create an estate plan with the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney. You may include any or all of these documents in your personal estate plan. It is essential to revisit your estate plan from time to time to make changes. For example, you may need to revise your beneficiaries following a divorce, or after the birth or death of a loved one. Your attorney will assist you in making the needed corrections to keep your estate plan current.

As part of your estate plan, you will assign an individual or individuals to handle your affairs if you are too ill to do so, or following your death. Make sure that you provide details to your assigned estate administrator or executor so they know their role and have an understanding of your wishes in these circumstances. This person will take care of the administration of your will following your death. To learn more about estate plans and to get started with your own estate plan, contact Moen Sheehan Meyer, discuss your needs.

Published March 5, 2020
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