What are the five essential Estate Planning documents every family should consider?

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Having the appropriate estate planning documents is important. The following is a list of the five essential estate planning documents every family should consider having.

  1. Durable Power of Attorney for Finances. A power of attorney allows you to appoint a person you trust to conduct financial business for you as your agent if you are unable to manage your own finances.
  2. Advance Directive for Health Care. The advance directive establishes a representative for health care decisions, just as one establishes a power of attorney for one’s financial decisions. This document has two functions that would go into effect if you were unable to communicate with your doctors regarding your health care: (1) it appoints a health care representative with authority to make decisions for you, and (2) it gives instructions to the representative regarding your care and end of life decisions.
  3. Will. A will allows you to nominate a personal representative and express your wishes about where you want your assets to go after you die. The personal representative is in charge of managing your estate and carrying out your directions in distributing your assets.
  4. Trust. A trust is a will substitute. It takes a will’s job of saying where your assets should go after you are gone. It assures a financial decision-maker of your choice, avoids the court-declaration of your incapacity for the purpose of managing assets during your lifetime, and avoids the time, trouble and expense of a conservatorship and/or probate of your estate.
  5. Certification of Trust. A certification of trust contains all the pertinent information a bank, credit union, or brokerage should need to open a trust account and usually avoids the need to provide the entity with a full copy of your trust document. It does not include any information about your beneficiaries so keeps that aspect of your planning private. Many financial institutions require a certification of trust to avoid the liability of having to read and interpret your trust document.

An experienced estate planning attorney can help you decide the estate planning documents that are essential for you and your family’s needs. Contact the Estate Planning attorneys with the Law Offices of Nay & Friedenberg in Portland, Oregon at (503) 245-0894 to set an appointment.

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