One of the most important documents a person should have as part of their Estate Plan is a Last Will and Testament. A Will is a legal document that expresses a person’s wishes with respect to how their property is to be distributed after their death. The Will gives authority to an appointed Executor/Executrix to manage and distribute the property in accordance with the terms of the Will. A Will does not become effective until you die; the catch is, that no one knows when that is going to happen. That is why it is so important to have these documents in place and updated in case something were to happen unexpectedly.
If you have a Will, it could also make the process a lot easier should your Estate end up needing to go to Probate Court. Namely, it provides clear instructions for where your assets are to go once you pass away, and your appointed Executor/Executrix will ensure that the distribution of your assets is made in accordance with your wishes.
Another important document someone should have as part of their Estate Plan is a Healthcare Power of Attorney. This document becomes effective when you are still alive, but you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself due to incapacity. A Healthcare Power of Attorney allows you to make clear your specific healthcare wishes in the event you become incapacitated, and, similar to the Will, you appoint someone that you trust, called an Attorney-in-Fact, to ensure your wishes are carried out.
Lastly, a Financial Durable Power of Attorney is an important document to have in your Estate Plan. This document also becomes effective when you are still alive but no longer have the capacity to make your own decisions with respect to your finances. The Financial Durable Power of Attorney authorizes your appointed Attorney-in-Fact to make all non-healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated.