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What documents does your estate plan require?

A lot of articles exist that will tell you what, exactly, someone thinks should be in your estate plan. This isn't one of those articles, because the truth is that your estate plan isn't like anyone else's. You have unique needs and questions, and what works for someone else won't necessary work for you and your heirs. That being said, we do recommend that everyone have an estate plan, and this post highlights some of the common documents that you might want to talk to an estate lawyer about.

First, a will or a trust is usually important. These documents let you ensure your assets are handled in a way that meets your wishes once you are gone. Absent these documents, any assets you leave behind might be distributed among your heirs according to existing estate law and court decisions. Times when wills or trusts might not be important are if you actually have no assets to pass on or you truly don't care how they are distributed.

Even if you have no assets, you might want to consider a durable power of attorney form. You can use such a form to appoint someone to make financial or health care decisions for you should you be unable to make those decisions yourself. You can also use the form to document your wishes regarding decisions such as keeping you on life support. These forms might also be called health care proxy or health care power of attorney forms.

Finally, if you have any minor children, you might consider guardianship paperwork. These forms let you appoint someone to care for your minor children should you pass away.

Source: Investopedia, "6 Estate Planning Must-Haves," Glenn Curtis, accessed Aug. 26, 2016

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