There is more to creating an estate plan than writing a will or creating a trust.
While those documents are essential for determining what happens to your estate after your death, there are additional documents to include in an estate plan that can be beneficial during your living years.
1. A durable power of attorney
A durable power of attorney gives a person of your choosing the authority to make financial or business decisions for you when you are unable. This is useful in cases of incapacitation through illness or injury. They have the power to sign checks, pay bills and make decisions about real property. They do not have the power to change your will. The powers do not extend past your death.
2. A medical power of attorney
A medical power of attorney gives a person of your choosing the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf in case of incapacitation from illness or injury. The power given by the document only kicks in when you can no longer think for yourself, but you do not need to be legally declared incompetent. A medical power of attorney can make decisions about medical facilities, give consent for surgeries and make decisions about how aggressively to treat a disease.
3. A living will
A living will is a document that you create that dictates which medical interventions you do and do not want when receiving end-of-life care. This can include pain management choices, organ donation intentions or the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation to restart your heart.
Revisit these documents every few years when you review your estate plan to make sure they reflect your current wishes. Update the people designated for the power of attorney roles as needed.