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What are some important estate planning documents?

Estate planning is an important part of growing older. As you age, you collect more assets and become wealthier. As a result, you may have many assets by the time you reach retirement (or sooner).

Estate planning helps you decide what you want to do with those assets. Your estate plan will contain a number of important documents including:

  • Beneficiary designations
  • Guardianship designations
  • A letter of intent
  • A durable power of attorney
  • A will
  • Trusts
  • A health care power of attorney

Each one of these documents is important. Focusing on just the distribution of assets, the most important documents are:

  • Trusts
  • Wills
  • Beneficiary designations

With a will, you can state what you want to see go to whom. Additionally, a trust allows you to protect those assets, taking them out of your possession (in some cases), so that they cannot be seen as your property. This helps you save on taxes and reach goals regarding qualifying for Medicaid or other services.

Beneficiary designations are also important. They are there to dictate who you want to give your assets to. These designations might highlight your children, spouse, friends or other family members as people you want to give your assets to as you age or upon death.

When estate planning, have your documents ready and talk to your attorney about the best ways to reduce your taxes and to protect your beneficiaries. With good planning, it's possible to protect those around you and to guarantee that your assets will be distributed to those who you plan to have receive them in the future.

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