A well-thought out estate plan is one of the best things we can leave for our loved ones. When our remaining family members are grieving, they don’t need the stress of being forced to figure out what we would have wanted, and leaving those decisions up to the courts will inevitably mean the whole probate process will be longer and more expensive.

A complete, basic estate plan should include a few things. First, an original signed and notarized Last Will and Testament. This document will set out whom will receive which of your assets, if any. It further appoints an estate executor to carry out those intentions as well as administer and close out your estate.

Another part of an estate plan includes instructions in case you become incapacitated or mentally incompetent. This part of your plan typically includes a power of attorney document, appointing a trusted person to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf. For medical decisions, you need another type of document known as a healthcare directive.

Other considerations of documents to include are financial account information including account numbers, retirement plan documents, real estate deeds, automobile, boat, or camper titles, and life insurance policy documents. Think about it. If you were to pass away tomorrow, would anyone have one central place in which to find everything they need to know in order to most effectively administer your estate? If not, the time is never too soon to begin preparing.

A knowledgeable estate attorney can help craft a suitable estate plan for your needs.