This blog recently discussed the importance of an effective estate plan. Part of having a comprehensive overall estate plan is knowing what documents are included in an estate plan and what documents you need for your estate plan.

Estate planning documents can help estate planners address their specific needs and express their specific wishes for their estate and how it should be distributed to their beneficiaries. Each estate planner’s needs and wishes are unique and estate planning tools can accommodate them all. To begin with, it is important for the estate planner to have a valid will. A will states how the estate planner’s property and assets should be distributed. The requirements for a will to be valid vary by state so estate planners should be familiar with the requirements in theirs.

Additionally, a trust can provide a variety of different benefits during life and as part of an estate plan and can be used to compliment the estate planner’s will. It is also important for estate planners to account for circumstances such as if they become incapacitated and are unable to direct their own medical care or financial affairs. An advance healthcare directive, or living will, can designate a trusted friend or family member to take care of the estate planner’s medical care and treatment and a power of attorney can designate a trusted friend or family member to take care of the estate planner’s financial affairs.

The estate planning process may seem intimidating at times but it can also be made easier by understanding estate planning tools. Estate planners should understand the estate planning documents to include in their estate plan to help them plan for the future.