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What are the three major documents of an estate plan?

Estate planning often leaves people in Boston feeling flustered and intimidated. Though the process can be complex - especially when you have a large amount of assets - it does not have to be. Many elderly individuals have been left without plans because they have put them off over and over again. This is dangerous and could result in their personal wishes being completely ignored because they have not been put into an official form.

A basic estate plan contains three documents: an advance health care directive, a durable power of attorney and a will. The advance health care directive is a document that dictates who will act as a health care proxy when the individual is deemed incapable of making decisions regarding her or his health. This is an important document because it allows you to give the power of such decisions to someone you trust. In addition, it allows you to decide what sort of measures should be taken if certain situations may arise.

A durable power of attorney is similar to an advance health care directive in that it gives your decision-making powers to someone else. Instead of those decisions revolving around your health, they revolve around your finances. A person listed in such a document is given access to financial accounts and can pay bills on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

The will is one of the most well-known documents in an estate plan. Many people have heard of it but surprisingly few have drafted one and made it official. In a will, a person is allowed to dictate the distribution of their assets and who should oversee said distribution; this person is known as the executor of the estate. A will also allows a person to designate a guardian for any children that may be in need of care upon the drafter's death.

Source: Townhall Finance, "Are You Putting Off Estate Planning?," Carrie Schwab Pomerantz, Feb. 7, 2013

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