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Complete Estate Plans: Consider These Documents

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More and more people are going beyond the minimum last will and testament by setting up a portfolio of estate documents meant to cover a wide variety of needs. To learn what a complete estate plan might look like from a document point of view, read on.

Burial Instructions

More and more people are taking the guesswork out of final arrangements and choosing their own plans. Making funeral and burial plans and then funding those plans will help ensure that your wishes are followed. This often relieves your loved ones of a large burden and the uncertainty of decision-making.

The Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament are the oldest of all estate plan documents. Since all estates, except those with very small dollar values, must be probated, it's a good idea to make out a will so that things will be easier for your loved ones as they cope with probate issues. You don't necessarily have to include all your property in a will, but a basic will should be filed to satisfy state requirements.

Life Insurance Policies

A life insurance policy is a handy way to leave money to a beneficiary. As soon as the death certificate is available, usually a few days to a week or so, the named beneficiary can file a claim and be paid. This type of inheritance does not have to be part of the probate process.


Estate plans can benefit from a revocable or non-revocable trust. As the names imply, the non-revocable trust cannot be easily changed and those who go this route might need to cancel the trust and begin again if changes are needed. On the other hand, the revocable trust is easier to change. Both types of trusts can stand in for a will. It's important to know that if a trust and a last will and testament both exist and they both address the same item of property, the provisions set forth in the trust apply. 

Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney is another important part of an estate plan. You can even put forth instructions on how to direct the handling of financial or business affairs should you become incapacitated prior to death.

Living Will

This document, also known as a healthcare directive, provides guidance to both loved ones and medical practitioners about what to do if you are unable to make decisions on your due to your medical state. The living will indicate when it should be used and what, if any, means of prolonging death should be utilized.

Speak to an estate planning attorney to find out more.