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The 3 Most Important Documents Every Person Should Have During Estate Planning

Estate planning is a complex process with meaningful results. A strong estate plan can protect your assets and preserve your legacy for your loved ones. However, it is crucial that estate plans contain three basic documents: a will, durable power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney. Keep reading for more information.

The Will

A will and testament are considered a living document – figuratively and legally – that captures the wishes of it is grantor and preserves it for the family. Wills should include a designation of an executor or personal representative who will carry out the will, beneficiaries, and guardians for minors. Additionally, wills should include explicit instructions for how the deceased’s estate will be handled.

Wills also prevent the worst possible outcome for an estate – probate. Probate can still occur even if a will is in place, but there are more stringent limits on the power of the court over the deceased’s estate. However, without a will at all, an estate will pass in accordance with the state’s intestacy laws, which could lead to results the decedent never intended.

Durable Power of Attorney

Power of attorney is a legal designation granted to an individual, typically a relative or close relation. The individual is granted the power to act on the behalf of the person executing the power of attorney. The degree of those powers is provided for in the document but could involve signature power, the ability to gift or sell real estate or personal property or to access bank or medical records, among other powers. A “durable” power of attorney provides the attorney-in -fact the power to make legal decisions regardless of the mental competence of the grantor.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

In addition to durable power of attorney, its important to have a healthcare power of attorney. The healthcare power of attorney is the statutory form in which an individual may indicate their desire for a natural death if they have a terminal illness.

In South Carolina, the form allows the appointed person to make medical decisions as to whether to consent to or withdraw the individual from medical treatments, including end of life treatment and whether to accept or refuse medication or determine whether to discharge the individual from a hospital. It is important choose the healthcare power of attorney carefully as they are the party responsible for making crucial decisions regarding medical care when the estate owner is no longer able to do so.

Building Your Estate Plan

An estate plan can give you the peace of mind you need. A strong estate plan includes a will, durable power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney. These documents are detailed and should be prepared by a qualified attorney. Joye, Nappier, Risher, & Hardin LLC has decades of experience with estate planning and has helped countless clients protect their legacy and provide for their loved ones even after death.

Contact our experienced attorneys at Joye, Nappier, Risher, & Hardin LLC today
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