Five Legal Documents to Consider When Setting Up an Estate Plan

In Assets, Estate Planning by John Tramontozzi

Written by Neil O. Anderson, Esq. of Tramontozzi Law Offices

There are Five Primary Documents to Create when developing an Estate Plan:

Power of attorney

In the event you become disabled and can not make decisions for yourself, establishing a power of attorney allows another person the ability to make financial decisions for you.

Health Care Proxy

Similarly, if the same situation presents itself, and you become disabled, a health care proxy affords another person the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf.

A living will

A living will guides your loved ones regarding your preferences for end-of-life medical intervention. They can address the following:

• Prolonging your life through medication, blood transfusions, transplants, and surgery;
• Pain relief or palliative care (providing relief from life-limiting illnesses including symptoms, pain, and stress and anxiety);
• Administration of food and water; and
• Do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders

This legal document guides both medical providers and family when a decision is unclear.

Last Will

Your last will is a crucial legal document that conveys your final wishes regarding possessions and dependents. It is a fundamental legal document that serves two primary functions:

• It determines the distribution of your assets after your death; and
• Designates who will be the guardian of your minor children.

Without a last will, a Court will likely make these determinations, and they very well may not be what you intended.You will need to name an executor (also known as the Personal Representative). The executor is the person or institution who oversees the managing of your estate. They will perform the instructions stated in your will. It may also be advisable to designate an alternate in the event your first choice cannot or will not serve in this role.

Contemplate creating a trust or trusts

Trusts perform an essential role in many estate plans. For instance,

• Enable you to keep the details of your assets out of the public eye after you die;
• Lessen the taxes owed by your estate and heirs;
• Protect your assets from creditors and lawsuits; and
• Assert conditions on the distribution of your assets.

There are various types of trusts with their own advantages and disadvantages. Two common types of trusts are revocable trust and irrevocable trust. Establishing more than one trust is possible.

When you do establish a trust, you will need to name a trustee. The trustee’s duties include management of the trust’s assets, administration and tax filings for the trust, and coordinating distributions to beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust.

Every family situation is different so you should consult with an Attorney to help you decide which Trust is best suited for you.

Here at Tramontozzi Law Offices we are dedicated to assisting you and drafting all the Estate Planning documents that are right for you. Call us at 781-665-0099 for an initial free consultation.

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