The type of documents that Missouri residents have in their estate plan will vary based on their situation, but it can be helpful to know what some of the most common ones are so that you have a better sense of what you might need. Your estate plan should be reviewed regularly to make sure it remains up to date.
Common estate planning documents
Many people think of a will as being synonymous with estate planning. While they are not the same thing, a will is the cornerstone of most estate plans even for people who are passing the majority of their assets using a trust or other documents. You can appoint a guardian for your children in a will. Other documents that most people need are powers of attorney for financial matters and health care. These appoint someone to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot. If you have a retirement account or a life insurance policy, you probably completed a beneficiary designation. Keep in mind that these will override your will or trust if there is conflict in your instructions.
Some people choose to primarily pass their assets using one or more trusts instead of a will. There can be certain advantages to this, including avoiding the probate process. A trust can also give you more control over how your assets are distributed. For example, you can specify that you only want an adult child to receive their inheritance when they reach a certain age. You can also use trusts for a specific purpose, such as a digital assets trust that specifies what you want to happen to social media accounts and photos on your hard drive.
You may want to consider several other documents for your estate plan, such as a living will that outlines your wishes for end-of-life care or a letter of intent in which you discuss some of your final wishes for your funeral. You may also want to talk to your family about your estate plan so that they better understand your intentions.