Your Estate Planning Checklist Should Include:

  • A will.
  • A durable power of attorney designating who will handle your business affairs and health-care decisions if you are disabled or unable to act.
  • A power of attorney for health care (living will).
  • A revocable living trust to transfer, manage and distribute assets while you are alive and that will avoid probate after your death.
  • A form where you can list all your assets and where they are located.
  • A do not resuscitate, or DNR, medical order written by a doctor. It instructs health care providers not to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if a patient’s breathing stops or if the patient’s heart stops beating. Some feel this is an important document while others don’t.
  • A legacy letter. This is a document designed to pass “ethical values” from one generation to the next. Traditional wills involve what you want your loved ones to have. Ethical wills involve what you want your loved ones to know.
  • A discussion with your attorney involving whom you want to inherit various assets.
    A decision as to whom you want making medical decisions if you are unable to act yourself.
  • A list of how you want your assets distributed. Have this discussion with your attorney and/or spouse or appropriate family member, trustee, etc.
  • A decision as to whether you want to name a guardian for your minor children, if any.
  • A discussion with your accountant/CPA and attorney as to the tax consequences of your estate plan.
  • Letters to your spouse/family. Consider writing a letter to your spouse or family regarding your wishes should you need to be removed from life support. This letter will make their doing so a great deal easier if you reiterate that this is your wish with a personal, not formal, request.

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