You have school-age children, a healthy 401(k) and equity in your home. One thing you might not have yet is an estate plan that will provide for your family and protect your livelihood when you can no longer do so.
If you have reached your 40s or 50s, begin the estate planning process with these legal documents.
Writing a will
With a legal will, you can name an executor to handle your affairs if you die or become incapacitated. If you have young children, you can name guardians to care for them in your absence as well. You can also determine who will inherit your property. Without a will, the Minnesota laws determine inheritance. A legal will must be in writing and signed by you and two witnesses to be valid in Minnesota.
Establishing a trust
Trusts can help you provide for young children, manage real estate holdings and limit the tax burden of your estate. You can also establish a trust to care for a family member who has special needs, manage investments or handle charitable giving. While many different types of trusts exist, they all involve transferring assets to the ownership of the trust and naming a person, called the trustee, to manage those assets.
Documenting health care wishes
A health care power of attorney makes your wishes about medical treatment known to your family and your health care team. This document takes effect if you can no longer express these decisions yourself. Another document, an advance directive, details your wishes about life-saving medical treatments. For example, you can note whether you want artificial feeding and breathing in a vegetative state.
In addition to these documents, other aspects of your estate plan will vary based on your personal, family and financial situation.