Some people in Georgia might be among the roughly two-thirds of adult Americans who do not have a will. People often postpone creating an estate plan because it forces them to consider their own mortality. However, making an estate plan can be critical for ensuring that assets are distributed to loved ones according to a person’s wishes. Among the famous people who have died without leaving a will behind are the musician Prince and the entertainer and politician Sonny Bono.
Without an estate plan, a court will decide how assets are distributed, and that decision may not match a person’s wishes. Children from previous relationships and others may be left out. Another important reason to have an estate plan is to make plans in case a person becomes incapacitated.
There are several important documents all estate plans should include. A durable financial power of attorney appoints someone to manage finances if the person is incapacitated. A health care power of attorney or advance health care directive appoints someone to make health care decisions in the same situation. There may also be a living will that outlines the life-saving measures a person wants. A will is the document that describes how assets will be distributed after a person’s death. An individual might also want to consider a living trust to distribute assets more quickly.
There are other types of documents that should be considered as part of an estate plan. One that is often overlooked is the beneficiary designation. These are usually filled out when a person starts a retirement account or purchases a life insurance policy, and as a result, they can sometimes be forgotten. The problem is that they override instructions in a will or a trust, so they should be reviewed regularly to ensure that children are not left off or an ex-spouse is not inadvertently listed.