Estate planning in Washington is as important for single people as for couples. An estate plan gives you peace of mind and makes things easier for the loved ones you leave behind. If you don’t know where to begin, the following estate planning tips can help.
Create your will
It’s common to associate estate planning with great wealth, but you can create a will no matter your financial status. A will provides instructions on where your belongings go after your death. You can name almost any living person, institution or organization as a beneficiary. The only person excluded is the person who officially witnesses the signing of the will.
Your will, life insurance policy, and retirement accounts require at least one beneficiary. Update and review your beneficiaries to make sure the information is current. You can add or remove beneficiaries as circumstances and relationships change.
Create a durable power of attorney
A durable power of attorney makes your financial decisions if you become incapacitated. Choose someone you trust who can handle financial matters. This person will have access to buy or sell your assets, sign legal papers, pay bills and access your bank account.
Create a healthcare directive
A healthcare directive is also known as a living will. The document provides instructions on medical care if you can’t speak for yourself. It can include information such as whether you want to receive resuscitation or assisted ventilation. The document can also address wishes concerning organ and tissue donation.
Consider a trust
Planning an estate can include a trust and a will. A will is a public record, but a trust is usually kept private. Also, a trust is a legal entity that manages your assets while you’re alive and after your death. You transfer assets to the trust, and a trustee handles matters according to your instructions.
Gather your documents
Keep documents, such as real estate deeds and titles, insurance policies, and retirement account documents, in a secure location. Let someone you trust know where to find the information.
Dying without a will or trust leaves your assets at risk. The state will distribute your assets according to local intestate succession laws. If no one comes forward to claim your belongings, the state will keep your assets.