Estate planning is an important step for everyone to take, and the legal process provides valuable resources to help guide each individual through their estate planning process. It is helpful for people to be familiar with the different estate planning tools that can help them build an estate plan that meets their needs.

There are several different estate planning documents people should consider including in their estate plan. One of the most common parts of an estate plan is a Will. A valid Will describes how the individual wants his/her estate to be distributed and what he/she wants distributed to different beneficiaries. Wills require certain legal requirements to be valid so estate planners need to be aware of such requirements. In addition, a trust can be a valuable estate planning tool that can help people avoid the sometimes long and costly probate process.

Additional estate planning documents people should consider including in their estate plan help plan for incapacity. Such documents are an advance healthcare directive, or living will, and a power of attorney. If a person becomes incapacitated and is unable to direct medical care and treatment for himself/herself, an advance healthcare directive, or living will, designates a trusted individual to step in and direct such medical care and treatment on behalf of him/her. Similarly, if a person is incapacitated and unable to manage his/her financial affairs, a power of attorney designates a trusted individual to direct such financial affairs on behalf of him/her and also direct his /her medical care to the extent it is not addressed in the advance healthcare directive.

People should ensure that their estate plan fully covers all the worries they may have so they can rest assured that they and their loved ones will be cared for according to their wishes. Estate planning documents can help estate planners direct the distribution of their estate and their care during a difficult time which can provide peace of mind for themselves and their loved ones.