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Common Estate Planning Documents

Written By: Ryan Rink, CFP®

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If you’re a legal adult (over age 18), then you should have some form of estate documents in place. Listed below are common estate documents for individuals and married couples.

Will: Names a guardian for your children and distributes assets via probate.

Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney: Designates someone to make financial decisions and transactions on your behalf during your life, or if you become incapacitated.

Healthcare Power of Attorney: Designates someone to make medical decisions on your behalf during your life, or if you become incapacitated.

Revocable Living Trust: A named trustee (or trustees) can manage assets on behalf of your children/beneficiaries. With proper drafting, the trust can provide asset protection for the kid’s inheritance. A revocable trust often includes a credit shelter trust, which can minimize estate taxes that may be due.

Marital Property Agreement (if living in a community property state): This is typically used in conjunction with a revocable living trust. This document clarifies ownership since Wisconsin is a community property state and transfers assets to the revocable living trust without the probate process.

If you already have estate documents in place, we recommend reviewing them with an estate attorney every 3-5 years to ensure they are up to date with current law.