A proper estate plan must include at least these five documents.
- Will—A will explains how you want your property to be distributed at the time of your passing and who should handle that distribution. In Michigan (and other states), a will must be filed with the local Probate Court at death and distribution of assets are subject to state law.
- Funeral representative designation—Specifies who will be in charge of making final arrangements.
- Durable power of attorney for financial matters—Allows you to specify one or more persons to handle your financial affairs with your permission and at your direction.
- Durable power of attorney for health care—Allows you to specify one or more persons to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself.
- Advance medical care directive—Allows you to specify the level of medical care you wish to receive.
In addition to these five essential documents, a comprehensive estate plan may also include:
- Letter of instruction and personal care plan—To allow you to provide instructions for final arrangements, as well as for your personal care.
- Revocable living trust—To allow you to assert more control over the distribution of assets and, more importantly, avoid having to deal with Probate Court.
- Education trust—To allow you to set aside funds to provide for your kids education expense.
- Medicaid asset protection trust—To allow you to preserve assets while receiving Medicaid benefits.
- Special needs trust—To allow you to provide assets to disabled children without jeopardizing their state or Federal disability benefits.
Remember that an estate plan is not simply a “piece of paper.” It’s peace of mind. There is no better time than today to help secure your family’s financial future with a comprehensive estate plan.