Basic Estate Planning Documents for Your Protection
Having a living will is beneficial, but to be better protected, you would be well-advised to have all four of the following basic documents:
- A living will, which tells your health care providers—and your health care agent, if you also have a health care power of attorney—what your wishes are if you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious.
- A durable power of attorney for health care, which gives a trusted relative or friend the power to make all types of health care decisions if you are unable to do so.
- A durable financial power of attorney, which gives a trusted relative or friend the ability to handle your financial matters if you become incapacitated.
- A will or a trust, which ensures that your property goes to whom you wish to have it and provides for the care and custody of any minor children.
Warning: Caution must be used with a durable financial power of attorney, because the person you name as your agent could take your money and other property if he or she is dishonest. Often people elect to have a springing durable power of attorney, which only allows the agent to act if you are unable to do so.