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Key documents to consider as part of sound estate planning

While planning for how one's wishes should be carried out after his or her passing may be a sensitive topic, it is important to address the issue before anything bad happens. Good planning can protect not only those Texas residents who fall ill or pass away, but it can protect their loved ones too. Estate planning can take some time, but it will be time well-spent when considering the costs of not having a plan at all, asserts an authority on the subject in a recent piece.

In the event that illness strikes, there are a few documents that can help direct loved ones to the proper course of action. An advanced medical directive determines who will be in charge of making health care decisions, and it stipulates the signatory's preferences for health care decisions. A HIPAA release will allow anyone specified, such as a spouse, to gain access to necessary health records in the event they are needed. A durable financial power of attorney, on the other hand, specifies who is in charge of paying bills and controlling finances if the signatory is unable to.

There are other documents that will be helpful to family members in the event that one's death occurs. A will determines who is entitled to assets, and a trust helps in dealing with tax and liability issues. Both of these documents are recommended by experts to help prevent any additional distress and heartache to those left behind.

It is recommended that these documents be drawn up and kept somewhere that loved ones are aware of. Anyone who has yet to complete these documents may want to consult with an attorney, who may help to ensure that all necessary information is documented properly and thoroughly. They may also be able to provide advice about which documents are most warranted by one's situation.

Source: FOX Business, "Documents that Should be Part of Everyone’s Estate Plans", Andrea Murad, September 04, 2013

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