Build a powerful estate plan upon these foundational documents

In many cases, the community members we serve in Charlotte and Indian Trail, North Carolina, are new to estate planning. They do not know where to begin or how to get started.

Unfortunately, confusion about estate planning usually results in two mistakes. Ignoring the need to create a plan or making a simple will and calling it finished.

What else do you need in an estate plan?

A well-drafted will can strengthen an estate plan, but most people consider additional documents to ensure they have the best overall protection. The tools discussed below protect your assets, your heirs and your health. They also build a strong foundation upon which to add more when necessary. Key items include:

  • A will: Your will dictates how you want your assets distributed to your heirs upon your death. It also enables you to name a trusted executor to administer your estate after you die.
  • A durable power of attorney: With this document, you can name someone you trust to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated due to illness, age or injury.
  • A healthcare power of attorney: Like the document above, you name someone to act on your behalf. However, this person will be making your medical decisions if you suffer incapacitation.
  • Advance medical directives: Many choose to skip this document after creating a healthcare power of attorney. However, this tool empowers you to be specific about the care you want and do not want if incapacitated. For example, you can refuse extraordinary life-saving treatments if doctors believe your incapacitation is permanent.

As you begin feeling comfortable about estate planning, you may eventually want to add trusts or other tools to your plan. Learning more can help you decide which documents will best meet your and your family’s needs.