With the exception of those with a very high net worth, designing an estate plan does not need to be overly complex. However, your estate plan probably should be a little more sophisticated than printing a do-it-yourself will off the internet. Here are the basic documents every estate plan should include.

Legal Will

The first item on any estate planning checklist is the will. A will distributes your assets upon your death, according to your wishes. Without a legal will, the government gets to decide who will get what after you die.

Health Care Directive

Also called a living will, a health care directive informs medical professionals and family members how you would like to be treated in the end of life, when you may not be able to tell them yourself. A health care directive usually contains your decisions regarding resuscitation, intubation, and other life-prolonging measures.

Power of Attorney

You should designate who has power of attorney to make financial and health care decisions for you should you become incapacitated. Typically, power of attorney goes to a close family member, such as an adult child or sibling, or a trusted friend.

Living Trust

Not everyone needs to set up a trust, but the benefits of a living trust are too important to leave out. A living trust, also called a revocable trust, allows you to transfer assets to a trustee, which will shield these assets from probate (although not from creditors). A living trust is also revocable, meaning the trustmaker can reclaim his assets or modify the trust at any time before his death.

Protections for Minor Children

If you have minor or young adult children, you may want to think about their future should you leave them too soon. An estate plan should include guardianship arrangements for children under 18. You can also set up a trust that your children cannot access until they have reached a certain age (often 21, 25, or 30). This prevents an irresponsible 18-year-old from squandering an inheritance.

Need Legal Assistance? Call a North Carolina Estate Planning Attorney.

The estate planning attorneys at McAllister, Aldridge & Kreinbrink, PLLC can help you complete an estate plan that works best for your family. To ensure your loved ones are cared for after you are gone, contact our office in High Point, North Carolina to discuss your estate planning needs.