When planning an estate, there are things that a person can do to make sure the dissemination of their possessions goes as smoothly as possible. In addition to the usual documents, estate planners can make sure that assets with titles, such as cars, have the person listed as a joint owner. In the event of death, the title will automatically transfer to the other title holder and no probate is necessary.

The document that every person should have is a will. A will can be written on a piece of paper or drafted by a lawyer. For peace of mind, having a professional look over a will is a good idea. Wills also need to be witnessed to have legal standing.

Deciding on an agent to handle legal and financial matters can be solidified in a general power of attorney. This gives an agent the authority to pay bills on your behalf. Otherwise, legal guardianship must be applied for in court.

A more specialized kind of power of attorney is health care power of attorney. That gives the agent of your choosing the power to make medical decisions on your behalf. A copy of the health care power of attorney should be given to the agent ahead of time.

A living will is not legally necessary, but many choose to create one. It allows you to be clear that you do not want to be placed on medical life support. It takes the burden off relatives and relies on a medical assessment. Two physicians decide if you are in a permanently unconscious state and make the decision to take you off life support accordingly.

By having your affairs in order, you can save family members the heartache and headache of an unprepared estate.

Luis E. Barreto