Some people in North Carolina know that estate planning and administration will be an important part of their lives and the lives of their loved ones. One basic document to include in an estate plan is a will. A will can designate who is to inherit which assets. If you do not have a will when you pass away, your estate will be subject to intestate succession, wherein state law determines who is to inherit your estate, which may not be what you would have chosen. For parents with minor children, a will can also name a person who will be guardian of your children should you die before your children are grown. Again, without a will, it is the state that will make such decisions. So, if you have a preference, it is prudent to execute a will.
Another basic document to include in an estate plan is a living will. This document states what medical care you’d like to receive if you are incapacitated and cannot communicate what your preferences are. For example, would you want to be kept on life support? Some people may say “yes,” while others may say “no.” A living will can serve as your voice when you are unable to express your opinions yourself and can provide some much-needed guidance to your loved ones during a difficult time.
Finally, a well-rounded estate plan can include a power of attorney. There are, in fact, two types of power of attorney. A medical power of attorney grants someone the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated, while a financial power of attorney grants someone the authority to handle financial transactions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. The amount of power granted to a personal representative can be general or limited.
While there are other types of documents that some may find useful to include in their estate plan, executing a will, a living will and a power of attorney is a good start. Of course, each person’s health, family and financial situation is different. For this reason, no two estate plans will look alike, and boilerplate documents may not achieve the purposes you intend them to.