Plan Your Estate

No one likes to think about wills, durable powers of attorney or health care directives, but these documents are important. Along with a couple other key estate planning documents, they will be vital to your surviving family should the unthinkable happen to you or your spouse. Visit your installation JAG office for free assistance in preparing these and other estate planning documents. Keep reading for more information on five key documents you should have as part of your plan.

Plan Your Estate
Plan Your Estate - 5 Key Estate Documents
Primary Text Separator for Milspouse Money Mission, Financial Education for Military Spouses
Primary Text Separator for Milspouse Money Mission, Financial Education for Military Spouses

Plan Your Estate

No one likes to think about wills, durable powers of attorney or health care directives, but these documents are important. Along with a couple other key estate planning documents, they will be vital to your surviving family should the unthinkable happen to you or your spouse. Visit your installation JAG office for free assistance in preparing these and other estate planning documents. Keep reading for more information on five key documents you should have as part of your plan.

Primary Text Separator for Milspouse Money Mission, Financial Education for Military Spouses
Military Spouses - Financial Planning - Measure Progress

5 Key Estate Documents 401

Are you wondering how to plan your estate? A well-constructed estate plan should include a will, appropriate powers of attorney (POAs) and letters of instruction for both you and your spouse.

Make sure your important financial, insurancePlan Your Estate and legal documents are securely stored. It is recommended to keep sensitive information in a secure location away from your residence, such as a safe deposit box at a bank or a safe in your attorney’s office. Just be sure your executor will have convenient access to the documents in the event of your death.

Since some states may restrict or limit access to a bank safe deposit box upon the death of the owner, you should consult your legal advisor or financial planning professional to determine the option that best balances security and access in order to achieve your planning purposes. Consider giving copies to your executor or instructions on where to locate them.

 

Plan Your Estate: Your Will

Your will is an important legal document where you specify the following:

  • An executor and successor to handle your affairs when it is time to probate your will
  • A guardian for your minor children
  • Who receives your property when you die

Seek professional advice when preparing your will. Not having a will or having a poorly written will that confuses your heirs can be costly and add unnecessary stress to an already difficult time.

 

Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions

 

A power of attorney allows you to give another individual the legal authority to act on your behalf during your lifetime for a purpose you designate, such as paying your bills, managing your personal affairs, or handling your finances. This document:

  • Remains in effect even if you become unable to manage your personal and financial affairs
  • Can be revoked when you wish, as long as you remain mentally competent
  • Should typically be revisited every three to five years to confirm your intentions
  • Should be provided to your financial institutions, preferably before they are needed

 

Health Care Directive, Living Will or Directive to Physicians

 

This document allows you to designate medical procedures you want taken — or not taken — if you are unable to state your preferences. For example, you can specify desired types of treatment, such as no cardiac resuscitation, but maximum pain relief. You’re also able to designate when your instructions apply.

 

Medical Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy

 

Similar to a durable power of attorney, this document allows whomever you name to make health care decisions on your behalf, should you become incapacitated.

 

Plan Your Estate: Letter of Instruction

 

Your letter of instruction is not a formal legal document. It is a summary of essential information that you prepare to clarify your wishes concerning personal and financial matters like:

  • The names of those who will need to be notified of your death
  • What is to be done immediately following your death
  • Instructions for your funeral
  • Directions for handling important financial matters that may need immediate attention
  • An inventory of investments, insurance policies and other personal financial matters, such as debts you owe, or money owed to you
  • Locations of valuable documents, like: wills, trusts, deeds, military records, birth, adoption or marriage certificates, divorce decrees and disposition instructions for personal property

Keep your letter of instruction updated since the information is likely to change over time. It is recommended that you store this information in a secure location away from your residence.

Military Spouses - Financial Planning - Measure Progress

5 Key Estate Documents 401

Are you wondering how to plan your estate? A well-constructed estate plan should include a will, appropriate powers of attorney (POAs) and letters of instruction for both you and your spouse.

Make sure your important financial, insurancePlan Your Estate and legal documents are securely stored. It is recommended to keep sensitive information in a secure location away from your residence, such as a safe deposit box at a bank or a safe in your attorney’s office. Just be sure your executor will have convenient access to the documents in the event of your death.

Since some states may restrict or limit access to a bank safe deposit box upon the death of the owner, you should consult your legal advisor or financial planning professional to determine the option that best balances security and access in order to achieve your planning purposes. Consider giving copies to your executor or instructions on where to locate them.

 

Plan Your Estate: Your Will

Your will is an important legal document where you specify the following:

  • An executor and successor to handle your affairs when it is time to probate your will
  • A guardian for your minor children
  • Who receives your property when you die

Seek professional advice when preparing your will. Not having a will or having a poorly written will that confuses your heirs can be costly and add unnecessary stress to an already difficult time.

 

Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions

 

A power of attorney allows you to give another individual the legal authority to act on your behalf during your lifetime for a purpose you designate, such as paying your bills, managing your personal affairs, or handling your finances. This document:

  • Remains in effect even if you become unable to manage your personal and financial affairs
  • Can be revoked when you wish, as long as you remain mentally competent
  • Should typically be revisited every three to five years to confirm your intentions
  • Should be provided to your financial institutions, preferably before they are needed

 

Health Care Directive, Living Will or Directive to Physicians

 

This document allows you to designate medical procedures you want taken — or not taken — if you are unable to state your preferences. For example, you can specify desired types of treatment, such as no cardiac resuscitation, but maximum pain relief. You’re also able to designate when your instructions apply.

 

Medical Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy

 

Similar to a durable power of attorney, this document allows whomever you name to make health care decisions on your behalf, should you become incapacitated.

 

Plan Your Estate: Letter of Instruction

 

Your letter of instruction is not a formal legal document. It is a summary of essential information that you prepare to clarify your wishes concerning personal and financial matters like:

  • The names of those who will need to be notified of your death
  • What is to be done immediately following your death
  • Instructions for your funeral
  • Directions for handling important financial matters that may need immediate attention
  • An inventory of investments, insurance policies and other personal financial matters, such as debts you owe, or money owed to you
  • Locations of valuable documents, like: wills, trusts, deeds, military records, birth, adoption or marriage certificates, divorce decrees and disposition instructions for personal property

Keep your letter of instruction updated since the information is likely to change over time. It is recommended that you store this information in a secure location away from your residence.

Primary Text Separator for Milspouse Money Mission, Financial Education for Military Spouses

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