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What estate planning documents should everyone consider?

Some Florida residents may have a vague understanding of what estate planning entails, but may not be quite sure of what exact components are involved. This is understandable, as there are many estate planning myths that float around. Estate planning, in the minds of many, entails death and taxes and large inheritances. While these undoubtedly play a part in estate planning, there is much more to it.

The first and most obvious component in estate planning is the will. Many people are familiar with the will. What they may not be familiar with, however, is how vital and important the will is. Completing a will with the help of a lawyer is, according to one article, the best way to ensure that one's wishes will be carried out after their passing.

But there is more to the will than just simply directing where assets should go. There is also the matter of naming an executor. An executor will be in charge of managing the estate, making sure everything is taken care of as planned and paying bills. The person who is going to be named as executor should be made aware of this fact right away.

Similarly, it is also important to consider a durable power attorney. A power of attorney can endow someone else with the authority to make legal and financial decisions in the case that a person becomes incapacitated. This person should be both dependable, trustworthy and skilled at managing money.

The other document that everyone should consider is the living will. The living will makes known what a person's end-of-life health care wishes are, so families are not left guessing should a person fall into an unconscious state. These health care wishes involve questions such as whether someone wants to be kept alive in a vegetative state.

When dealing with these estate administration issues, it is often best to make decisions informed by expertise. There are many complex legal issues involved that can quickly become overwhelming without guidance.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Four Estate-Planning Documents Everyone Should Have," Tom Lauricella, April 20, 2014

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