Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament allows you to set out your specific wishes for how you want your property and assets to be divided upon your death. It also designates who will assume guardianship responsibility of any minor children if neither parent can serve as guardian. You can use a will to make bequests to charities. Last wills are easy to prepare, but are subjected to probate process, which, depending on the size of your estate, could take some time.
Codicil to Will
You should update your will every few years or so, especially when a major change takes place, like a birth, death, marriage or divorce. If you find that you don't need to change very much about your will, you don't have to write a completely new one; instead, you can amend your existing last will with a codicil.
A living will is a legal document used to specify your wishes for end-of-term health care decisions. It states that you do not want life-prolonging treatment if there is no hope of recovery, for example in the event of terminal illness or irreversible coma. Having a living will lets others know what your wishes are when you are unable to communicate them yourself.
A living trust is like a will in that you can specify how you want your assets to be divided after your death. You actually transfer your property and assets to the trust during your lifetime, but they can pass directly to your beneficiaries upon your death without going through probate. If you are married, you can also set up a joint living trust with your spouse.
Transfer on Death Deed
In many states, you can transfer your home or other property with a transfer on death deed. This allows your beneficiaries to avoid the lengthy probate process. It's not available everywhere, so double-check our "What is a Transfer on Death Deed?" article to find out if this form is available where you live.
Durable Power of Attorney
You can grant a power of attorney to another person (called your agent) for any case where you cannot represent your own interests. For example, you can send an agent to an important meeting you are unable to attend, and they may act on your behalf for the duration of that meeting. A durable power of attorney, on the other hand, remains in effect if you become incompetent. In cases of terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness, you can set out health care directives for your agent, much like in a living will.
You can find all these legal documents and other estate planning forms on RocketLawyer.com. Our online interview makes it easy to create these important documents, so don't wait.
- How to write a will
- What is a living will?
- Will vs. Estate Plan
- Find more information about wills
- Start your will today
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.