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Important estate plan documents to have

Estate planning can be relatively simple or complex depending on a person's needs. At a minimum, Georgia residents will want to have a will. Without a will, the state will determine who gets guardianship of a child or who gets a decedent's assets. This may result in people from who the decedent was estranged receiving all or a portion of the estate.

A living will can come in handy in the event that an individual becomes incapacitated. It allows the named agent to dictate how long to keep the person on life support or what types of treatments to administer. Having these instructions in writing can make it easier for family members or others to make decisions without wondering if they are making the right choice.

Having a valid power of attorney can also be helpful from an estate planning perspective. The attorney-in-fact can pay bills or make other financial moves to ensure that taxes or other bills are paid in a timely manner. Individuals should grant these powers before they are incapacitated for any reason. By the time an emergency strikes, it may be too late for family members or a spouse to obtain them.

Taking steps today to create an estate plan may allow an individual's estate to avoid probate. This may allow assets to be distributed to beneficiaries immediately, and it may also prevent infighting among family members from occurring after a person dies. An attorney may be able to analyze a person's estate planning needs and help create a plan that meets them.

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