Regardless of age, we are all one accident away from death or disability. For example, if Terri Schiavo had created an estate plan, a seven-year court battle between her husband and her parents could have easily been avoided. Therefore, it is a good idea for all adults to have at least basic estate planning documents in place – especially when you have minor children. In Wisconsin, these documents should include (at the minimum): (1) a Will designating how your property will be distributed upon your death and naming guardians and establishing trusts for your minor children, (2) a Property Power of Attorney designating someone to manage your financial matters in the event you become mentally incapacitated, (3) a Health Care Power of Attorney designating someone to make health care decisions for you in the event you become mentally incapacitated, (4) a Living Will indicating whether or not you wish to be kept alive artificially under certain circumstances, (5) a HIPAA form authorizing your agent to access your medical records when needed, and (6) an Authorization for Final Disposition specifying your burial and funeral wishes and also designating who is in charge of your burial and funeral upon your death.
Of course, depending your circumstances, there may be additional estate planning documents that should be part of your individual estate plan. The best way to determine what you need is to consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.
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