Four Basic Estate Planning Documents - Melvin
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Four Basic Estate Planning Documents

by Melvin Cook

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Most adults, regardless of their net worth, will want to have some kind of estate plan in place. One of the basic reasons for this is to have the chance to determine the distribution of one’s estate upon one’s death.

If some level of estate planning is not done, then the laws of intestacy (i.e., dying without a will) will determine how the person’s assets are distributed by default. Most people will not want this result.

In addition, most people want to be able to have the chance to determine in advance what will happen with respect to end-of-life care or in the event of incapacity.

At its most basic level, estate planning consists of a will, durable power of attorney, and health care directive.

In many cases it is advisable to have a revocable (or living) trust, which is a will substitute. Such a trust helps simplify the distribution of assets upon a person’s death by avoiding the expense and hassle of probate while maintaining complete privacy for the person’s estate. A pour-over will is used in conjunction with a revocable trust.

The person creating a revocable trust will name one or more trustees in their trust agreement. The trustee(s) of a trust is similar to an executor of a will, and must make sure that the decedent’s intent is carried out according to the terms of the trust agreement.

A durable power of attorney specifies which trusted individual(s) will handle one’s financial affairs in the event of incapacity.

A healthcare directive gives basic instructions regarding end of life care. Utah has a specific form that is often used in setting forth these instructions.

People will want to give some thought to updating their estate plans periodically, and after the occurrence of major events such as divorce.

In sum, the four basic estate planning documents reviewed briefly in this post are: 1) A will, 2) A Revocable Trust, 3) Durable Power of Attorney, 4) Healthcare Directive.

This material should not be construed as legal advice for any particular fact situation, but is intended for general informational purposes only. For advice specific to any individual situation, an experienced attorney should be contacted.

Contact a Salt Lake City Attorney Committed to Protecting Your Rights

When it comes the family law and social security disability, each client and case is different. It is also important to select an attorney with the experience, skills and professionalism required to address your legal issues. To learn more, contact the Salt Lake City law offices of Melvin A. Cook and schedule an initial consultation to discuss your case.

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