Financial Tips

The Estate Planning Essentials

There are three essential legal documents that help to ensure safe passage of your property to your heirs. These documents are also recommended to ensure that your best interests are kept at the heart for your medical care, charitable bequests, and in the event of incapacity. In years past, a family lawyer would handle these tasks for you, however, the Internet now provides many additional web-based services. Here are the basics you need to know before getting started whether you take a traditional, in-person or more modern, online approach.

The essential three documents for estate-planning are: a Will, General Durable Power of Attorney (GDPOA), and an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD). A brief review of the function of each is important and will help to explain the process of procuring estate-planning services.

Will – this is a legal document that leaves instructions at your death. It allows you to give away your assets as your instructions detail and allows you to name an executor to make sure this happens as you have intended. A properly executed will is recognized by the court. The will is at the center of most estate plans and becomes paramount in importance after your death.

General Durable Power of Attorney – this appoints an individual as your agent to act on your behalf throughout your lifetime and during incapacity. This power ceases at your death. It is generally recommended for anyone age 18 and older.

Advance Health Care Directive – this includes a durable power of attorney for health care decisions. It also includes a health care treatment directive, also known as a Living Will. This component allows you to express your treatment wishes.

There are many decisions to be made prior to executing these essential documents. Some consumers are best served by a face-to-face consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney or a family lawyer. Many times, this professional will be familiar with family history and dynamics, allowing him or her to provide thoughtful recommendations.

However, many consumers are showing a growing interest in using websites for certain legal services. Often, these online services offer compelling value by allowing the subscriber to go through an automated process of answering a series of questions that are used to create basic legal documents. But you need to keep in mind the cheaper version today could lead to complications and higher costs with unintended consequences later. Omission of details during applications may have an inadvertent outcome.

Making sure your estate plan will serve your needs well into the future starts with these essential three documents. It would be wise to consider both online services as well as local attorneys to see which can better serve your unique needs. Be sure to compare not only costs, but also the evaluations of consumers who have used the services. This will help ensure that your wishes are carried out.

Investments offered by Univest Bank and Trust Co.’s Trust Division are not insured by the FDIC or any federal government agency, are not a deposit or other obligation of or guaranteed by the depository institution, and are subject to risks, including the possible loss of principal amount invested.


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