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What goes into an estate plan?

Until you have created an estate plan, it may be difficult to determine if you need one. You may feel that estate plans are only for very wealthy individuals. But estate plans do more than help people with a large net worth. Everyone should have an estate plan if only to make life easier for your heirs and prevent confusion or conflict that could waste resources of the estate.

You already have an estate plan, whether you know it or not. Kentucky has a statute that governs what is known as "intestacy." This is what happens when you die without a will. The intestate succession statute will distribute your assets if you have not planned or created a will. It may not do it in the manner in which you would have done it, and it may mean other problems, like higher taxes.

You may not need a complex estate plan. A will may be all you need to distribute assets. In your case, a trust may be unnecessary. But, there is more to an than estate plan than simply a will and/or a trust. And even if you think you don't need a trust, you should discuss it with your attorney. You may find that after looking at your fact, one could be useful.

Your estate plan should also include advance healthcare directives or living wills, which can help provide your family with instruction should you become unable to communicate your preferences for critical care.

Powers of attorney are another important document that you should have in your estate plan. This document authorizes another person, often your spouse, to make decisions on your behalf.

A durable power of attorney can be used to allow a family member to make business decisions on your behalf or to spend money. This can be important if you suffer an incapacitating event, like a stroke or a coma following a car accident.

Beginning the process is important and your attorney can explain the various options and how you and your heirs can benefit from the drafting of an estate plan.

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