As you know, having guardianship papers and an estate plan set up is an important step in adulthood.

But you may not realize that just as important is being familiar with your guardianship papers and estate plan.

Let’s take a look at each form you might have.

 

Living Will

A living will is also known as an advance care directive.  A living will is only valid while you are alive.  It states your wishes for end of life medical care in case you are unable to communicate your decisions.  You can set up the living will to take effect either as soon as it is signed or it can be set up to only begin as soon as you are unable to communicate your wishes.  The requirements for a living will vary from state to state, so your best option is to hire an estate planning attorney to help you.  Legal documents you will need for your living will are:

  • Beneficiary information – Legal names, Contact information, Social Security, and Birth Certificate/adoption papers (for minor children).
  • Asset Information – Copy of the deed for your house or other real estate, titles for all vehicles, bank statements, retirement paperwork, paperwork related to investments, and any paperwork from an appraiser if you have any valuable personal property you want to be left to a specific beneficiary.
  • Debt Information – documents relating to your mortgage, car loans, student loans, and consumer debt.
  • Executor and Guardian Information – Names and contact information for anyone you name an executor or guardian.

 

Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

Durable Power of Attorney for Finances allows you to name a trusted person to be able to make decisions about your finances should you become incapacitated.  If you do not have a Durable Power of Attorney for finances, then your loved ones will have to go to court and ask for the ability to make financial decisions.  Legal documents you will need for your living will are:

  • Durable Power of Attorney Form – Must be filled out, signed, and notarized (for Washington state, requirements vary from state to state).
  • Attorney-in-fact contact information – Contact information and legal name(s) for anyone you name to make decisions for you.

 

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to name someone to make health care decisions for you should you become incapacitated. It also allows you to voice what you want if you become incapacitated. Legal documents you will need for your living will are:

  • Durable Power of Attorney Form – Must be filled out, signed, and notarized, requirements vary from state to state.
  • Attorney-in-fact contact information – Contact information and legal name(s) for anyone you name to make decisions for you.

 

Last Will and Testament

You last will and testament is a legal document that allows you to say how your estate will be distributed after you die.  It will also allow you to name a guardian for your minor children if you have any and also what will happen to your pets. Legal documents you will need for your living will are:

  • Family Documents – Prenuptial agreements, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, existing will and trust documents if you have them, adoption certificates (if applicable), and findings of your disability or of family members.
  • Business documents – Partnership agreements, trade name registrations, and documents files to establish a corporation.
  • Real Estate Documents – Deeds, real estate trust documents, and deeds of life estates or leases.
  • Account Statements – Bank, retirement, and investment accounts.

 

Living Trust

There are two types of living trusts; Revocable (can be changed) and Irrevocable (cannot be changed).  Unlike a will, a living trust will ensure that property left through the trust will not have to go into probate.  When it goes through probate, it can take months to be settled and sometimes cost as much as 5% of the assets to pay for lawyers.  Not everyone has to be concerned about probate, and some people may not need a trust at all.  You can speak with an estate planning attorney to find out if you need a living trust.  Legal documents you will need for your living will are:

  • Beneficiary information – Legal names, Contact information, Social Security, and Birth Certificate/adoption papers (for minor children).
  • Asset Information– Copy of the deed for your house or other real estate, titles for all vehicles, bank statements, retirement paperwork, paperwork related to investments, and any paperwork from an appraiser if you have any valuable personal property you want to be left to a specific beneficiary. You only need documents for the property you will be putting into the living trust

 

Guardianship Papers

Most people name the guardian for their children in their living will.  Along with that, you can also write a letter of intent that explains your wishes for your children’s upbringing such as:

  • Education
  • Religion
  • Family traditions you want followed
  • Any other big decision you want to include.

You also want to make sure to put all of these important estate planning and guardianship forms somewhere safe.  Make sure that someone you trust knows where to find them and that anyone who is named a guardian, beneficiary, or power of attorney has a copy of the appropriate forms.

We are available to answer any questions you may have so contact us today.

 

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