Estate Planning Documents Every Adult Needs

Estate plans are often perceived as exclusive investments for the wealthy; however, they are important for any adult with assets in their name. More than 50% of American adults do not have an estate plan in place, but we want our customers to know how simple it is to invest in your family’s future. Most Americans assume estate planning is for only for very individuals. This is not the case. If someone passes away without an estate plan, state law will determine how their assets are distributed. This can create additional and unnecessary costs because of the probate process, delaying asset transfer to intended beneficiaries and in certain cases the final results may not be as the owner intended. Estate planning may seem overwhelming,  filled with paperwork, expenses and tough decisions. Partnering with a professional can help ease this burden.  Further, estate planning doesn’t have to cost a lot.   While attorney fees vary based on complexity of an individual’s needs or situation, we believe that professional assistance in this area is a well worth the expense. Rob DeHollander of Greenville’s DeHollander & Janse Financial Group is CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, and says that fees for estate planning can vary widely depending on the scope and complexity but typically range from $500 to $3,000. There are four basic documents that every adult should consider for their estate planning needs:

  1. Power of Attorney for Finances : This document designates a trusted individual to manage all financial affairs in the event that you should become incapacitated.
  2. Power of Attorney for Healthcare : Sometimes called a health care proxy, this document specifies your wishes for medical treatments and the names of those who can make medical decisions on your behalf.  Related to the health care power of attorney is a separate document known as an advance health care directive , also called a "living will". A living will is a written statement of a person's health care and medical wishes but does not appoint another person to make health care decisions.
  3. A Basic Will : With any amount of assets, a basic will should be established. In certain states, laws are in place to determine how assets should be distributed if no will is in place. People with young children may want to have a trust drawn out as a part of their will with a designated trustee to handle any inheritance. These can include any requests made to ensure that your children are covered into adulthood.
  4. Personal Letter of Instruction : This is a letter that summarizes things such as where assets are held, a summary of passwords, location of key documents, and most importantly, a note to loved ones stating your personal wishes. This does not require an attorney, but DeHollander recommends that the letter accompanies the first three documents on this list.
Any trusted estate planning attorney can draw up these documents up for you. While software options exist to help create the documents, we recommend hiring an attorney to ensure professional accuracy and to give you that personal service you need. Every three to five years, revisit your estate plan to adjust it accordingly. Talk to your banker today about how our partners at DeHollander & Janse Financial Group can help you with your estate planning today.