Estate Planning Packages FAQ
What are Estate Planning Packages?
Because there are so many factors that go into estate planning, itís often necessary for people to employ entire estate planning packages Ė a series of documents rather than a singular one Ė in order to make sense of all of their plans and assets. That is what an Estate Planning Package accomplishes.
Estate Planning Packages will often consist of different forms in addressing the needs of people with different circumstances. For example, one Estate Planning Package might be optimized to help prepare married couples for estate planning, while another package might be optimized for divorced persons. The additional complication of having adult/minor children, or no children at all, can require the use of a different Estate Planning Package.
What kind of documents do Estate Planning Packages usually consist of?
The individual documents employed by an Estate Planning Package will vary based on the information listed above, as well as the states the documents are going to be used in. However, many Estate Planning Packages will include some form of the following documents:
- General or Durable Powers of Attorney: Granting someone Power of Attorney in certain cases will be crucial to ensure that your estate planning strategy is employed even in your incapacitation. Durable Power of Attorney documents (often effective in different scenarios such as Effective Immediately and Effective upon Disability) can help at this point.
- Will: Utilizing a Will is one of the central strategies in estate planning, which is why most Estate Planning Packages will include some form of Will. Married couples and other couples can use Mutual Wills to ensure that both of their wishes are carried out.
- Advance Health Care Directive: Outlining exactly what you want to have happen to you when youíre medically incapacitated or incapable of speaking for yourself is important, which is what the Advance Health Care Directive accomplishes.
- Quitclaim Deeds: These documents are used in transferring real property from the grantor to the grantee, which is often an essential process in estate planning.
Other forms, such as Anatomical Gift (Organ Donation) Agreements, will also make frequent appearances in Estate Planning Packages.
Why do I need a specific Estate Planning Package?
For a number of reasons. First, you need to know that the documents youíre using for your estate planning strategies are in line with your local stateís laws. Second, you need to use the proper documents according to your situation in life. A divorced man with adult children will likely need to use different documentation than a married couple with minor children, and so on.
Which document in an Estate Planning Package is the most important?
Theyíre all important, and their importance will vary based on your own situation. For example, itís often more important for couples with children to have wills than couples without them. Or you may get in an accident and your family finds that your Advance Health Care Directive is crucially important. Thereís really no way of saying which document is most important Ė thatís life, and itís why you require an Estate Planning Package rather than one single document.
Iím single and I have no children. Do I need an Estate Planning Package?
Yes. There will still be crucial forms for you to fill out and strategies for you to outline. For example, an Advance Health Care Directive will be crucial no matter whether youíre married with children or not. You should always do your best to leave a solid legal foundation behind your legacy no matter what your individual family situation is like.
What kind of Will do I need to fill out?
As youíll find in different Estate Planning Packages, there are often different types of Wills for you to fill out. These documents are created around specific family situations, which will make it easier to fill out one that is tailored to your circumstances. A widow/widower with no children is different than a widow/widower with children, and so on. If you can find an Estate Planning Package tailored to your situation, youíll likely find the right Will as well.
What about Trusts and Living Trusts?
Trusts and Living Trusts do not always make appearances in standard Estate Planning Packages because they require unique circumstances. If you donít want to create a trust, for example, then you simply donít have to fill one out; Wills, however, should always be filled out. You can always supplement an Estate Planning Package with the trusts you create on you and your lawyersí own initiative.
Do I need to use all of the forms in an Estate Planning Package?
How you use your Estate Planning Package is up to you. But itís important to fill out documents like Advance Health Care Directives and Wills no matter how you feel about them because of the impact they can have on your life and the lives of those around you. Donít make the mistake of taking any one document less than seriously.
Iím in my 20ís or 30ís. Do I need an Estate Planning Package?
As the old adage goes, ďbetter safe than sorry.Ē But that adage isnít sufficient if you have children at this young age Ė you will have to make sure that theyíre cared for in the unlikely event of your passing. Your age should not be an excuse to avoid using Estate Planning Packages to their fullest and taking advantage of the legal opportunities they provide.
When are the documents in Estate Planning Packages valid?
Because an Estate Planning Package generally contains a number of documents Ė each with their own requirements for validity and enforceability, there are too many variables in this question to provide one single answer. However, you should strive to make sure that you meet the requirements of validity and enforceability Ė for example, when signing a Will, you will likely require a witness, oftentimes a lawyer. This is also the case in granting Powers of Attorney. So review each form carefully in order to make sure that you meet all of its requirements.