Martin Shenkman, CPA, M.B.A., J.D.
will is only a small component of an estate plan. There
are actually five key estate planning documents. Almost
everyone, no matter how young or old, no matter how rich
or poor, requires these five
Power of Attorney
proper durable power of attorney is used to assure that,
in the event of your illness or disability, someone can
take care of financial matters for you.
Will and Health Care Proxy
living will and medical health care proxy is used so that,
in the event of a medical emergency, you will have established
a line of authority to address the medical decisions you
want carried out.
will is used to appoint an executor (the person to manage
your estate), and to exercise your right to assure that
property will be distributed the way you wish. You can
also use a will to name a guardian for any minor children
you may have.
listing of financial information must be readily available.
If key personal financial information is not provided
to the people you or your family will rely on in an emergency,
even the best documents may be of little use.
are often a host of personal issues that your agents,
executors, trustees, and others need to know. A personal
letter can provide valuable guidance, avoid fights, and
help assure your wishes are carried out. It is also a
place to offer wisdom gleaned in your life to your beneficiaries.
the nature of your estate, you may also need trust documents
set up for insurance trusts, charitable remainder trusts,
or revocable living trusts. These can help you avoid probate,
minimize estate taxes, protect assets from your heirs'
creditors or an heir's divorce, as well as assure proper
management of insurance proceeds for those you seek to
benefit. You should also consider signing documents to
become an organ donor.
The Right Attorney
complete these documents properly, you will probably need
to consult an attorney specializing in estate planning.
Start with recommendations from your accountant, insurance
agent, or financial planner. Next, look at the attorneys
in Martindale Hubbell. Most local libraries will have
a copy of it. It lists a rating for attorneys and the
firms where they work. It also gives background information
on the attorneys. Finally, call some attorneys to inquire
about their backgrounds. Always remember that the goal
is for you and your estate planning team (ie.,
all of your advisers: lawyers, accountant, insurance broker,
securities broker or financial planner, and others) to
work together to achieve the goals you've identified.
from Martin Shenkman's book
Estate Planning: Step-by-Step.
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