What is Included in a Comprehensive Estate Plan?
Below is what is included in the Comprehensive Estate Planning Package and the general purpose of each document. Where a document is an individual document (e.g., Advance Health Care Directive), one is included for each spouse in a married/joint plan. To better understand how these documents work in context, please read our educational article, "The Purpose and Objectives of Estate Planning."
Revocable Living Trust. Appoints successor trustees to manage and administer your assets upon incapacitation or death. Provides a structured (and protected) distribution of assets to beneficiaries. Avoids probate, remains private, and minimizes tax liability.
Pourover Will (and Nomination of Guardian). Acts as a back-up to the trust in certain circumstances. Also nominates guardians of any minor children.
Power of Attorney. Appoints an individuals to act on your behalf to manage your personal (non-medical) affairs which are not already handled by the successor trustee.
Advance Health Care Directive. Allows you to preemptively make certain medical decisions for situations in the future where you are unable to provide informed consent. Also appoints individuals to make other medical decisions on your behalf.
Declaration of Trust / General Assignment. You will find out that part of how a trust works is that it is the named owner on many of your assets. This document serves to express a general intent that you want all of your assets to be owned and managed by the trust.
HIPAA Authorization. Certain Federal laws prohibit other individuals from accessing your medical records, regardless of whether they are a trustee or other appointed individual. Should you be incapacitated, this document authorizes the necessary parties to access your medical records to better be able to handle your affairs.
Certification of Trust. An executive legal summary of your living trust. The trust contains a lot of personal information, but when dealing with financial institutions and third parties, there are only a few items of information that need to be shared; the certification synthesized this information.
Marital Property Agreement. Regardless of property agreements among spouses, this document clarifies that upon death, the estate plan will dictate the disposition of everything. Although this documents isn't required, it can play a very important role in your plan. Note that this does not affect pre-nuptial agreements and this document is specifically void in the event of a dissolution of marriage; it does not change anyone's rights.
Assignment of Personal Property. Manifests your intent for your personal property (e.g., art, clothes, jewelry, furniture, etc.) to be owned and managed by your living trust.
Quitclaim Deed(s). Transfers title of your real estate into your trust. This is a tax-neutral transaction and there is no reassessment of property nor is there any taxable event.
Other Assignment Documents. Other documents exist to ensure other assets become owned by your trust. For example, if you loaned someone money and you are carrying a promissory note, we would include an assignment of the rights under that note to your trust.
Final Disposition Instructions. Instructions regarding your funeral or memorial services.