An estate plan is like a combustible engine: there are a lot of moving parts. At the heart of a solid estate plan should be health care and financial Powers of Attorney (“POA”). The health care POA allows your representative to speak with your doctors and other medical professionals, so that the best care can be provided. The health care POA also outlines your advanced directive/end-of-life wishes.

The financial POA is just as important as the health care POA. It gives your representative the ability to handle everyday financial tasks, such as paying the bills and basic banking tasks (making deposits, cashing checks, etc…), as well as talking to the banks and stock brokers when you’re incapacitated. Without this vital document, financial institutions may not speak or cooperate with your loved ones, regardless of how long you’ve been associated with the institution.

An estate plan should also contain a will and, possibly, a trust which will serve as the main vehicles for disposition of an estate after death. Employing the use of a trust often allows the family to bypass the probate process.