Chapter 14

Eyeing Wills and Other Legal Documents

IN THIS CHAPTER

check Seeing what you need to know about wills

check Lining up powers of attorney for your finances

check Getting to know medical care documents

check Handing down retirement plans, annuities, and other assets

check Examining probate and ways to avoid it

Regardless of the value of an estate, every estate plan needs a few key documents. The will, of course, is a key part of the plan. But you may need other documents to complete your plan, including a financial power of attorney, a living will, beneficiary designations, and more. We discuss the essential documents in this chapter.

Writing Your Will

A will is the most important document you need in your estate plan because it specifies who will inherit your assets. Without a will, state law determines the inheritance, which may not be what you want. Most states give one-third to two-thirds of the estate to the surviving spouse. The rest goes to any children of the estate owner (known as a testator ...

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