3 basic essentials of any estate plan

Regardless of the amount of wealth and assets Georgia residents have, a well-documented estate plan allows them to declare their personal wishes at the end of life or in the event of mental and physical incapacity. Financial advisers and attorneys typically agree that estate plans need a will, a durable power of attorney and an advanced health care directive.

The will describes how a person wants assets like bank accounts, real estate and other possessions distributed to selected heirs. This document generally prevents an estate from landing in probate court where state intestacy laws will determine who will receive distributions. Someone with minor children should also use a will to name a guardian for them.

The durable power of attorney addresses financial affairs. The document assigns another person to handle financial decisions if the principal becomes unable to understand or manage financial activities. Similarly, the advanced health care directive relieves relatives of the need to make decisions about medical care for an incapacitated person. The document should explain what life-saving actions, if any, should be taken to revive someone as well as describing what type of general care should be given.

There are several other estate planning documents that an attorney could suggest based upon a client's particular set of circumstances. For example, people who are concerned that an heir would squander a lump sum inheritance received under a will might want instead to create a trust. The language of that document could authorize a trustee to make distributions only upon the achievement of certain milestones or periodically upon reaching specified birthdays.

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