Five Documents Essential to Your Estate Plan

Five Documents Essential to Your Estate Plan


Knowing which estate planning documents you should have drawn up can ease the process of handling your estate. Below we explain what these crucial documents do and offer tips for making them work with your estate plan.

1: Advanced Health Care Directive or a Living Will

What It Does: Specifies what actions you desire for your health should you no longer be able to make decisions for yourself due to illness or incapacity.

Tip: You can express what actions you want and those you don’t want.

2: Healthcare Proxy

What It Does: Allows you to appoint an agent to make healthcare decisions in the event you are incapable of executing decisions yourself.

Tip: Before you appoint someone, decide on whether you prefer having the most days of life or the most quality of life.

3: HIPAA Release Form

What It Does: Allows your doctor, hospital, and other healthcare providers to share your medical information with third-party caregivers and relatives.

Tip: This becomes important when your healthcare proxy needs access to your health information. Fill one out and keep it on file with your paperwork for your healthcare proxy.

4: A Will

What It Does: Declares how you wish your property to be distributed after your death.

Tip: If you are active online, consider appointing an online executor to close your email addresses, social media profiles, and blogs after you are deceased.

5: A Living Trust

What It Does: Allows an easy transfer of assets without going through the process of probate. A trustee has possession of the assets or funds that belong to another person, the beneficiary, while that person is still alive.

Tip: Most people appoint themselves and their spouse as trustees, and any children as successor trustees. You can fund your trust with as little as one dollar, instructing it to be fully funded upon your death.

If you already have these documents ready, it’s a good idea to review them with your attorney every few years to make sure the information is up-to-date and applicable to your current life situation. You’ll also want to keep your proxy, trustees, and loved ones up-to-date on your current wishes.

Estate planning is an important task, but it can be complicated. For more information on the options available through Fifth Third, contact an advisor.

For more detailed advice and official legal documents, be sure to work with an attorney who specializes in estate law.

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