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The four most important estate planning documents

Securing your estate for your descendants is one of the most important legal steps you will ever take in your life. So how do you plan to go about it? Simply having a last will and testament document is not enough to have a secure estate plan. Here are four documents that your plan needs which will determine what happens to your estate after you pass away:

Power of Attorney

  • This document answers the question of what happens when you are unable to handle your own affairs. A general durable power of attorney drawn up in a person's name ensures that the person is able to act on your behalf in the eyes of the law. Paying your bills, filing your tax returns and the general execution of all your financial matters can be done by the person you authorize in this document. 

Power of Attorney (for Healthcare)

  • This is a separate document that specifically deals with appointing power of attorney to a person to make medical decisions on your behalf. This document comes into effect if you are found to be unable to make decisions on your own. The appointee is required to execute your living will and carry out your wishes in all medical matters. The duties of the appointee are similar to those of the power of attorney for your finances, but from a medical viewpoint in relation to your health.

Living Will

  • This is the document which you use to state your wishes before the law in terms of the medical treatment you wish to partake of in the event of suffering from a terminal condition or being incapacitated in some other manner.

Last Will and Testament

  • This is the will that controls the fate of your property after your death. You need to decide who gets your estate after you are gone, and also who will get the property if your next-of-kin are also unable to take on the responsibilities of your estate and property.

You will also name an executor, whose job will be to make sure your debts are paid and your instructions in the will are followed for the distribution of your property. 

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