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Essential Parts of a Complete Estate Plan

Ensuring a Whole Document

Putting together an estate plan doesn’t have to be a stressful or complicated process, especially if you understand the various components that make up a complete estate plan. You and your attorney will want to be sure to go over these essential parts in order for your estate plan to be fully taken care of. Here is what you need to include.

Last Will and Testament

Perhaps the document that most people associate with an estate plan, a last will and testament is a document that outlines how your assets and other property should be distributed upon your passing. This can also include necessary information related to assigning guardianship over any children as well as a person who will monitor assets left to said children.

This can be accomplished through a trust, as well. A trust outlines similar provisions to that of a last will and testament; however, the terms outlined in a trust are active from the day they are signed, whereas a last will and testament becomes active after the person passes away. A trust can also provide more control over how and when heirs receive their inheritance.

Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney refer to the designation of a party who will make specific decisions on behalf of the person who created the estate plan in the event that person becomes incapacitated and is unable to make these types of decisions. An estate plan often designates both a medical as well as a general durable (or financial) power of attorney. Powers of attorney are only applicable while the individual signing them is alive and are no longer valid after their death.

As you might expect, being named a medical power of attorney means you are in charge of the incapacitated person’s medical decisions. The general durable power of attorney assigns a person the ability to make financial decisions.

HIPAA Release

A HIPAA Release names certain individuals who are granted the ability to access the medical records and information of the person signing it.

Advanced Medical Directive

Unfortunately, sometimes a person becomes incapacitated to the point where they lose all chance of recovery. This situation can be caused by either a vegetative state or a terminal illness. An advanced medical directive put into an estate plan outlines what types of medical care you wish to receive (and, conversely, what types you wish to avoid); this part of an estate plan is often connected to scenarios that involve end-of-life care and whether or not you wish to attempt to prolong your life.

Disposition of Remains

You may wish to include a disposition of remains in your estate plan. This document simply states how you wish for your body to be taken care of after your death, such as burial or cremation. You can also outline any wishes for funeral or memorial services.

Work With an Estate Planning Attorney

There are other ancillary documents that might be included in your estate plan, depending on your situation and wishes. Because estate plans have multiple parts with their own complexities, it is important that you work with an estate planning attorney who understands each part and can help you craft a document that meets all requirements. At Law Office of Alexandra White, PC, we believe that estate planning is an important part of providing you and your family with peace of mind. Our team is committed to helping you ensure that your wishes are carried out through your estate plan.


To schedule a consultation to discuss your estate planning questions or to get started with the process, call us at (303) 647-4245 or visit us online.

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