Estate Planning What is an estate? Our assets, both tangible and intangible: Home, cars, bank accounts, jewelry, personal property. Anything that can be assigned a monetary value. What is estate planning? Planning for the care of ourselves and our families in the event of incapacity or death. Planning for the distributing of our assets (home, accounts, etc.) to our children or loved ones. What is a will? Our personal directions to a Probate Court; effective only at death & only if presented to a Probate Court. It tells the court what you want done to your assets and how you want them to be distributed. Who needs Power of Attorney Documents? ANYONE over the age of 17. What is a Financial Durable Power of Attorney? A document appointing a person to handle our financial affairs in the event of our incapacity. Authority ends at death. What is a Healthcare Durable Power of Attorney? A document appointing a person to handle our healthcare decisions in the event of our incapacity. What is a Healthcare Directive (also called a Living Will)? A document to medical professionals & family members declaring your healthcare desires & wishes if you can no longer communicate for yourself. Every adult needs one so there is no confusion on what kinds of extraordinary measures (if any) they would like to be taken to keep them alive on life support. What is a Trust? A Trust is a legal document that tells a Trustee (chosen by you as the creator of the Trust) how you want your assets to be handled if you are incapacitated or in the event of your death. So long as your assets are owned properly by the Trust, it does not need to be brought before the Court, so it’s totally private. And, the person you choose as the Trustee has totally control over the process, which is often a lot less expensive and much quicker than the Court process called probate, which is required with only a Will. At what age do I need estate planning? Once someone reaches the age of 18, they at least need to get both a financial and medical Durable Power of Attorney. Then, Estate Planning should be an ongoing process throughout his or her life. Almost all major milestones in life (marriage, births of children, major purchases/investments, etc.) require some evaluation under your Estate Plan to make sure that your assets are taken care of in the way you wish. Find out more about what Estate Planning documents you may need by downloading our complimentary Estate Planning Checklist.