There are 5 “MUST HAVE” documents included along with your Living Trust when creating your Estate Plan. While the Living Trust is primarily used when you become deceased, 3 out of 4 of these “must have” documents are critical to have while you are living. Let’s go over all 5 documents quickly:
1. Advance Health Care Directive. While you may have heard of this document, and maybe even have one, it is still amazing to me that there are those without this critical document. This document allows you to make health care decisions for yourself, in advance, so that you are prepared should a time come when you are incapacitated. Additionally, it allows those you trust/love to be able to make health care decisions for you. Without this document, you may find that decisions are being made by people you don’t know and doing things you would not want
2. Durable Power of Attorney for Assets. Should you become incapacitated, you can choose those you know/love/trust, to be able to take over and handle your finances. The last thing you want is to become incapacitated, your finances are not handled during that period, and should you again become capacitated…find yourself in a financial world of hurt!
3. Nomination of Conservator. This document does not create a Conservatorship, but instead allows you to choose whom you would want to be your Conservator. Conservatorship is similar to Guardianship, but it is for an adult.
4. Nomination of Guardian. If you have children, you are running a huge risk should you not have this document. It allows you to choose those people you know/love/trust to take care of your children should something happen to you and your spouse. It is critical that this document be a part of your Estate Plan and it needs to be handled immediately as life can throw some crazy curve-balls!
5. Pour-Over Will. This “catch-all” document allows you to move assets that were inadvertently left outside of your trust, into your trust after the Trustors have become deceased. While Probate is still required, it is a shortened Probate brought through a Petition to have the assets moved into the Living Trust.
There really is no reason to delay having these documents created along with your Living Trust. We see, on a regular basis, those people who wait and wait until it becomes too late to handle these important issues as they are either become incapacitated or deceased. Do yourself and your family something great by being prepared, having your Living Trust created and being certain that the documents we have discussed above are most certainly included in your Estate Plan.