Estate Planning Basics – 4 Pieces of Paper Everyone Should Have

Estate planning advice can get flowery and complex, and I’m here to clear the air and give you some free advice – straight from an attorney who knows firsthand the importance of planning your estate properly. It’s not as big a hurdle as you may think, read on!

When it comes to estate planning and will preparation, it’s important to understand that these are not serious, “end-of-life” decisions – but really just basic financial and medical designations that you should have into place as a semi-responsible adult. You can be healthy, unmarried, and free of kids – and the fact is you should still be ironing out your estate planning groundwork.

Fear Not. The process of gaining peace of mind should never take away peace of mind. So here’s an easy breakdown of the 4 documents you need to consider to set up a basic Estate Plan:

1. Last Will and Testament – If you don’t want “the man” deciding what to do with your property and assets in your absence, then simply draft up a basic will and testament. This will accomplish a few important but straightforward things…

  • It’ll set into place what you have and how and where it will be parceled out.
  • It will also name someone you trust to oversee the process: the personal representative of your estate.
  • If you do have kids (and they’re minors) this document will designate a legal guardian. Pet clause, anyone?
You don't have to have grown children to get your affairs in order! But be warned that "Bad things happen to good people's families when you don't have an estate plan."

You don’t have to have grown children to get your affairs in order! But be warned that, “Bad things happen to good people and their families when you don’t have an estate plan.”

2. Living Will – You’re taking care of both yourself and your loved ones when you “get-to-getting” on the whole living will thing: This document states your wishes should you end up on life support or in an “end stage” condition. If you wish not to be kept artificially alive, then you need this document to protect your rights. If you don’t want your family members to live with the stress, guilt and worry associated with this decision––simply make it now.

3. Durable Power of Attorney – Who takes charge of all those everyday things in your stead? Opening your mail, paying your bills, deciding how to proceed with business and any other non-medical decisions. This document will name an individual responsible for maintaining and managing financial, legal, and general life decisions in your absence. 

4. Health Care Surrogate – The designation of a health care surrogate is similar to power of attorney, but it has to do with your medical decisions. If you should become incapacitated the person named in this document will make your medical decisions for you. This could deal with doctors, procedures, medication, decisions on operations, and more. It’s important to have a health care surrogate in place; if not, you may be issued a court-appointed guardian should your health or mental state decline.

Relax. You don’t have to throw yourself into a tailspin to get prepared and settled with your estate plans. And it won’t be a long and painstaking process either. In fact, it’s quite easy with the right attorney to help you along.

Contact Daytona Beach Attorney Heidi S. Webb to receive a free consultation on your estate planning needs, it’s never too early (or to late!) to get prepared. 

Heidi S. Webb is not your typical attorney, if you’re looking for an affordable, no-nonsense lawyer with compassion, integrity, and a quick turnaround when it comes to your needs for legal guidance, look to Attorney Heidi S. Webb for help with Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning & Probate, and Small Business Law. Located at 140 Beach Street, Suite 310 in Daytona Beach, FL, Attorney Webb also serves clients in Ormond Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Palm Coast, Port Orange, and beyond. Call 386-257-3332 to speak with Heidi today. 

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