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Estate planning provides valuable documents for the future

The most important of the estate planning documents in Minnesota are very much like the most important documents in other states. The important concepts and practices of estate planning thus represent a fairly uniform body of law nationwide. It is highly beneficial in several respects for an individual to go through the process and have the most useful instruments drawn up to cover his or her particular needs and wishes.

An inventory of the most important documents in the estate planning arsenal reveals what may be some common terms to some readers. A will is the first document that many people recognize and draw up. It is effective only upon the testator's death. It states the distributions of the person's assets to the designated persons, either by cash, by in kind bequests of the property or by setting up a testamentary trust fund.

Perhaps the most underrated document is the durable power of attorney. This fairly simple paper can save the individual and his or her family significant time and money by allowing the appointee the right to sign the grantor's name to many different kinds of bills and legal documents. It can also save the estate substantial expenses in not having to deal with a court-appointed guardian who will have to approve and sign all of the expenditures. Other tools include the living trust, health care proxies, living wills and testamentary trusts.

A person or couple making an estate plan can determine which documents are needed during a consultation with an estate planning attorney. At that meeting, it is necessary to come prepared with copies of all of one's business documents, bank account records, retirement accounts, investment accounts, deeds, mortgages and all other documents showing one's ownership of assets and debts owed. The meeting is an ideal time for a person to get all of his or her questions answered and to become more well-informed about the benefits of the estate planning procedure in Minnesota.

Source: Time, "24 Essential Pieces of Estate Planning Paperwork", Jill Schlesinger, April 20, 2016

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