Most people need foundational estate planning. Everyone is unique and these estate planning documents are tailored to you. They avoid probate, define your inheritance plan, and nominate trusted people for important roles such as your personal representative (e.g. executor), trustee, guardians for minor children, and power of attorney for both transactional matters and for medical decisions. These documents include:
You are the trustee of the trust and control it during your lifetime. The trust will own primary assets directly, such as your home, or will be the named beneficiary of assets such as life insurance. Upon your death, the successor trustee steps in to administer the trust for your chosen beneficiaries. You can design the trust to distribute assets to whom you want, how you want, and when you want without the need for court probate proceedings.
We commonly think of a will as the tool to direct division of assets upon death. Because your trust handles division of assets, your pour-over will primarily acts as a safety net “pouring” any assets into your trust which were not already in trust. Your will also nominates your personal representative (executor) and guardians for minor children.
This allows you to appoint an “agent” to sign documents on your behalf. This is an excellent tool because if you are ever incapacitated and unable to sign documents for yourself, you’re covered because you have already given this authority to someone you trust.
This has two parts. First, you appoint an “agent” to make medical decisions for you if you cannot for yourself, and second, you outline your “living will” (e.g. you want life support removed if you are in a persistent vegetative state with no reasonable hope of recovery).