When you are facing the death of a loved one, the last thing you want to think about are finances. However, if the decedent was the “financial boss” of your family, it can be hard to get back on track after he or she passes away. Trust administration and estate planning experts say that the best way to avoid frustration and confusion after a death is to simply plan ahead and communicate your wishes.

Everyone needs three documents in their estate plan. These include health care directives, a durable power of attorney and an estate plan with a will or trust plan included. A “pour over” will is often created by individuals who want all of their holdings to immediately transfer into a trust upon their death. This can help reduce the need for a costly and exhausting probate process.

Trust creation can actually make asset management far easier for surviving family members. This is because trusts allow individuals to consolidate assets and reduce estate taxes, among other benefits. Trust administration experts can help those who are interested in pursuing this “pour over” option for their own estate plans.

Everyone also needs a power of attorney, which will allow someone of your choosing to act in your place for legal purposes. The durable power of attorney will permit that person to make decisions if you suffer an incapacitating injury or illness — or simply if you cannot handle these matters on your own any more. Finally, health care directives provide instructions for physicians and family members about your later-in-life medical care. All of these documents work together to make your estate management process easier for your family, which will take a major burden off of your relatives during an already trying time.

Luis E. Barreto