Estate planning is an important process that everyone in Virginia should go through. It ensures you and your assets are taken care of in the way you want before and after you die. There are several different documents that can be part of an estate plan, but some are more important than others. Here are the four must-haves.
A will is an estate planning document that dictates how your chosen executor will distribute your assets to your beneficiaries after you die. If you do not have an updated valid will, the probate court will distribute your assets according to Virginia state laws. And this is not what you’d want for your family because probate court can take months or even years and a lot of money to complete.
Financial power of attorney
This document allows you to appoint someone else to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated or are suffering from a condition like Alzheimer’s. While choosing this person, make sure they are competent, trustworthy, and will make decisions based on your interests and that of your beneficiaries.
A revocable trust
If you want your assets to be distributed in a specific way after you die, but you still want the ability to change your mind if necessary, a revocable trust is a way to go. This document is important because your loved ones will avoid probate, and you can still control how they use your assets after you die. For example, if you have an underage child, you can dictate that they get their inheritance after finishing high school or college.
Advance healthcare directive (also known as a living will)
A living will is a document that specifies the type of medical treatments you want to receive if you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself. For example, you can spell out how doctors should handle pain management, organ donations, or if you want or do not want to be kept alive artificially.
Of course, you can use many other documents depending on your unique situation. However, these four can help you prepare yourself and your family adequately for the future.