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What essential estate planning documents do you need?

Thinking about end-of-life wishes and arrangements can feel overwhelming to many Arizona residents. Fortunately, making every detailed decision does not have to happen at once, and you can take the time you need to ensure that your plan covers everything you feel is important. Of course, when starting your planning journey, you may want to remember that some documents could help set a solid foundation for a comprehensive plan. 

The exact documents you want and need for your plan will vary, depending on your specific circumstances. However, some essential planning tools could help you address both end-of-life and after-death details regarding your estate. 

What should you consider? 

As you move forward with your estate planning journey, some planning documents to consider include the following: 

  • A will, which allows you to appoint a guardian for any minor children you have and lets you detail some important property distribution information 
  • A trust, which also applies to property distribution but offers more protection than just a will 
  • A power of attorney, which can allow you to appoint an agent to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated 
  • Beneficiary designations, which are often applicable to payable-on-death accounts, such as savings accounts or retirement funds, and allow for specified beneficiaries to receive the assets 

In some cases, individuals may be comfortable using just some of these documents, but all of them could prove invaluable in the long run. Additionally, you could choose to use multiple types of the same planning tool, such as power of attorney documents. You could appoint a power of attorney agent to handle only your financial affairs if needed, and you could choose someone to handle only your health care decisions. It is also possible to appoint the same person for both needs. 

Customizing your plan 

While certain estate planning options could have foundational uses in your plan, it is important to keep in mind that every person’s plan is unique. You can choose the documents to include and how detailed you want those documents to be. Nonetheless, it is crucial that you create these documents properly under Arizona law. If you do not, a court could deem them invalid, and they may not do you or your family any favors when needed. Fortunately, planning early could better ensure that your affairs are in order. 

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