What are common elements of estate planning?

| May 28, 2021 | Wills

Not everyone invests time in estate planning, which may do more than cause problems for beneficiaries. Since Georgia estate planning also involves living wills and power of attorney designations, even the would-be planner might experience trouble when plans aren’t carried out. “Partial” estate planning could create problems, so being as thorough as possible could work in everyone’s favor.

Essential things to consider

A will could be the one estate planning document that people are most familiar with. They might not realize a trust might serve similar purposes. Determining whether a will or trust is best stands as a potentially critical step in the estate planning process.

Putting a “letter of intent” in the will might be essential as well. The will likely names an executor of the estate. If the testator has specific instructions for the executor, the letter of intent spells these items out.

A power of attorney form could present a solution to someone struggling with financial matters and other responsibilities. As someone ages, it may be beneficial to turn over authority to a trusted child. A POA provides the legal authority for an agent to act on another person’s behalf.

Health care power of attorney documents and living wills extend authority to medical decisions. If someone becomes incapacitated, such as being on life support, spelling out instructions in a living will could take burdens off family members. A health care power of attorney would move such decisions to a proxy.

Planners wishing to reduce the number of assets that go through probate could choose beneficiary designations on financial accounts. Transfer on death accounts do not require probate as the beneficiary generally needs only to provide proof of the account holder’s death.

Making sure the plans prove sound

Making sure the various documents are valid under Georgia law is a must. A power of attorney document is not legal unless two witnesses sign it. Someone performing estate planning steps might not be aware of such rules and might undermine their actions.