A well-structured estate plan ensures that your assets undergo distribution according to your wishes after you die. In Pennsylvania, a simple estate plan typically includes several key components.
Creating a basic estate plan that includes these components helps you maintain control over your personal and financial affairs even once you are no longer around to voice your preferences.
A will, also known as a last will and testament, is the cornerstone of any estate plan. However, less than half, or 46%, of Americans currently have wills. In your will, it is important to list all your assets, such as property, bank accounts and personal belongings. You also need to name an executor, the person responsible for carrying out the wishes you specified in the will.
Certain assets, such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies, allow you to designate beneficiaries. Make sure to keep these designations up-to-date to ensure that your assets undergo distribution as you intend.
Health care directive
A health care directive, also known as a living will, outlines your preferences for medical treatment in case you become unable to make decisions. This document can specify your wishes regarding life support, organ donation and other medical procedures. Appoint a trusted individual as your health care proxy to make medical decisions on your behalf.
Financial powers of attorney
A financial power of attorney gives someone you trust the authority to manage your financial affairs if you are unable to do so. This person can pay bills, manage investments and make financial decisions on your behalf.
Once you have established your estate plan, it is important to review and update it regularly, especially after major life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child or the acquisition of significant assets.