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Estate Planning

The four documents I recommend for all of my clients are a will, living will, health care power of attorney and financial power of attorney.  

In your will, I will include details for the distribution of your estate with as much
 detail as you wish. Also, you may
 wish to leave certain specified items to some beneficiaries. You will need to name an Executor, which is the person who handles the administrative aspects of your estate, including distributing assets to beneficiaries, filing documents with the Register of Wills, filing inheritance and estate tax returns, etc. If any of your assets might be distributed to individuals under 21, you will need to name a Trustee, who will be responsible for holding funds in trust for the minor beneficiaries (under 21) and distributing funds at his/her discretion for the needs of the minor beneficiaries. You may wish to have the principal of the trust fund(s) distributed over time. For instance, you may

wish to specify that 30% of the principal should be distributed at age 21, 30% at age 25 and the balance at 30. Finally, if you have children, you will need to name a Guardian, who will raise your children (under 18) if both you and the children's other parent are deceased. For each role, I recommend that you name an alternate in the event the first person you choose is unable or unwilling to act or predeceases you. Also, I will include how you are related to each person you name for each role and their addresses. You may name the same person for as many roles as you wish, but you should keep in mind the potential burden you are placing on the people you choose. Finally, I will include information at the end of your will regarding your life insurance policies, retirement benefits, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc., unless you would prefer not to include that information.

Information needed:
Your Full Name
Your Spouse’s Full Name and Maiden Name
Your Address
Names and Birth Dates of Your Children
Addresses for Your Children or Other Beneficiaries
Specific Bequests (If Any)
How Your Estate Is To Be Distributed
Executor’s Name and Address
Alternate Executor’s Name and Address
Trustee’s Name and Address
Alternate Trustee’s Name and Address
Ages and Percentages for Distribution of Trust Funds
Guardian’s Name and Address
Alternate Guardian’s Name and Address
Asset Information (To Assist the Executor)
Life Insurance
Real Estate (Other Than Your Home)
Retirement Benefits
Bank Accounts

The living will is an advanced health care directive.  With a living will you can decide which medical treatments you would like withheld if you are incompetent and are either permanently unconscious or have an end-stage medical condition.  

Along with the living will, a separate document is a health care power of attorney. In that 
document, you appoint an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to make the decisions for yourself. If you are in a car accident and unconscious for a couple of weeks, but the injuries are not life threatening, the health care power of
attorney would be effective during that time period. The living will would not be effective under those circumstances.

Finally, you may wish to have a financial power of attorney, which authorizes your agent to sign documents on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so yourself. You
can limit the authority of the agent to only take effect in the event you become disabled or you can leave it open so that if you are on a business trip, your agent can exercise the

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