Three must-have estate planning documents for Missouri residents

Estate planning is one important area of financial planning that is often, knowingly or unknowingly, ignored by many Missouri residents. The reasons for the failure to have a comprehensive estate plan in place are many but that does not justify the lack of it. In fact, estate planning is one task that every individual must complete before death, irrespective of how much that person's assets are valued or how difficult it may be to discuss death with family members and friends.

Since many Missouri residents may think that estate planning is a very difficult task, it may help if they understand the three basic documents that can address most of the issues that arise from death. Those three documents are a will, a power of attorney for advance health care directive and another power of attorney for addressing financial matters. If these three documents are in place, an individual can expect that his or her family would not have trouble managing the estate after death.

A will is important for all individuals who have minor children because custody of children after the death of a parent can be mentioned in the will. In such cases, courts generally do not interfere with a deceased parent's decisions. However, special attention must be paid while deciding who the executor of the will would be so that any future disputes related to estate administration can be avoided.

Once an individual is confident about the well-being of their children, the next set of concerns usually pertain to advance health care directives and financial matters. In both cases, a power of attorney can establish guidelines by which an individual would receive medical attention as well as have his or her assets divided among inheritors. It is important to remember here that a power of attorney for financial matters can have an immediate effect or can be springing, which means that the power of attorney would only take effect after the individual's incapacitation.

Source: WSJ.com, "Three Estate-Planning Documents Everyone Needs," Manisha Thakor, Jan. 6, 2015

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