J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Attorney and CPA

What documents do I need for an effective estate plan?

Effective estate planning can provide peace of mind and avoid family conflicts. The right estate planning documents and having an effective estate plan protects the estate planner, the estate planner's family and the estate planner's assets so it is important to be familiar with what estate planning documents are needed. The appropriate estate planning documents can also reduce stress and strife for families during difficult times.

An effective estate plan includes several important documents. An advance healthcare directive outlines the estate planner's wishes for their medical care and treatment should they become incapacitated. The advance healthcare directive also specifies who the estate planner wants to have making medical decisions for them. A HIPAA release form should also be completed in advance to make it easier for loved ones to direct healthcare treatment if the estate planner becomes incapacitated.

To handle financial matters should the estate planner become incapacitated, an effective estate plan should also include a power of attorney. A valid will is also important to ensure the transfer of assets according to the estate planner's wishes. In the absence of a valid will, state laws will determine how assets are divided which may not be according to the wishes of the estate planner. In addition, a trust can be an important part of an effective estate plan that can help avoid certain tax consequences or probate proceedings, among other potential benefits it is also important to understand.

An effective estate plan can be a complicated task and there are a number of important estate planning tools to fully understand to develop an estate plan that is best for the estate planner and their situation and circumstances. As a result, it is useful to have trained guidance and knowledgeable understanding when developing an effective estate plan that is best for you.

Source: Forbes.com, "5 Key Estate Planning Documents To Help Avoid Family Conflicts," Michael Chamberlain, Oct. 21, 2011

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