The Reference Section

A collection of wealth improvement articles

Documents Needed for Estate Planning
Estate Plan Documents

You work hard providing for your loved ones during your life. You can also provide for them when you are gone with a simple estate plan that legally conveys your desires to all your heirs. Here's a short list of some of the basic documents you should consider including in your estate plan.

Information memo. Keep a list of your insurance policies, brokerage accounts, businesses you own, outstanding debt, credit cards, tax-related documents, and names and phone numbers of professional advisors in a single place that can be easily accessed. As time passes, review this document and update as necessary.

A will. Your will is a written document that gives your heirs the blueprint of your wishes and intentions. In your will, you may bequeath assets to your heirs, appoint an executor to distribute your assets, and designate a guardian for your minor children.

A durable power of attorney for finances. Designate in this document an individual or advisor to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. The individual can sign checks if necessary and can be given access to your checking and investment accounts.

Medical directives. You name an individual to make health-care decisions for you in the event you become unable to make them yourself.

Funeral instructions. Detail what you feel is best in your specific situation. Include a list of relatives, friends, and business associates to be notified by your immediate heirs.

Taxes. Your estate plan should include provisions to minimize taxes if your estate might be subject to taxes at either the state or federal level.