Some legal forms
you could use.
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Everyone should have some standard legal documents. They're easy to create; you don't need a lawyer unless your situation is complicated.



Thorin Klosowski's "One Day, You're Going to Die. Here's How to Prepare for It"
Kristin Wong's "How to Prepare for Old Age When You Don't Have Kids"



You could start from these sample forms and modify them:
Sample will 1
Sample will 2
Willing (make a will online)

Sample Health Care Directive 1
Sample Health Care Directive 2
Pennsylvania example form (PDF)

Sample Health Care Representative 1
Sample Health Care Representative 2
Some hospitals want to see the term "medical power of attorney" or "healthcare power of attorney" in the document.

You can get other sample or free forms from various places on the internet (ILRG Legal Forms Archive), or maybe from government agencies, or maybe from associations such as the American Bar Association or AARP. And there are "make your own will" books and software from such companies as Nolo Press. For example, "Nolo's simple will book" by Stephen Elias (on Amazon).

Use the forms and my statements at your own risk; I'm not a lawyer; this is not legal advice; no liability accepted.


Estate planning and probate:
A key thing learned while dealing with my mother's estate:
do not name just "estate" as "beneficiary" on your retirement accounts such as IRA, 401(k), 403(b). Upon death of the account owner, this forces all of the (pre-tax) money in the account to become ordinary (taxable) income right away as it is put into the estate and then disbursed through the will. Instead, list real people as beneficiaries on your retirement accounts. This bypasses the will and estate, and means each of those people can control how the (pre-tax) money is handled: take it immediately as a (taxable) lump sum, or roll it into an IRA account and take it out annually over 5 years or over the rest of their lives.

Dealing with an IRA in an estate is a slight pain; apparently the money can't just be transferred to IRA accounts of the inheritors. Instead, the money has to be kept in one or more IRA accounts under the deceased's name, with the inheritor(s) named as beneficiary, then the inheritors draw out of the accounts as desired (paying taxes).

Matthew Frankel's "Use the 2016 Gift Tax Exclusion to Beat the Estate Tax"

The Onion's "How To Prepare A Will"
Inheritance





Problems with health-care directives / living wills:



It's a good idea to give copies of the proposed health-care documents to your chosen representatives ahead of time, to see if they agree with your wishes and will carry them out.

Your will almost certainly should be notarized; I don't think the health-care documents need to be notarized. You could ask the notary-public about that, and about the number of witnesses needed on the will (usually three).

The documents don't need to be filed or registered with any government agency. Give copies to all of your executors and representatives.



Non-legal documents you should create:



Sheryl Nance-Nash's "7 common estate-planning mistakes"



Joke:
On New Year's Eve, Lynda and I were sitting in the den talking about what the future might hold for us.

Aging and the usefulness of living wills came up.

I told her "I never want to live in a vegetative or immobile state, dependent on some electronic device and fluids from a bottle. If ever I reach that state I want you to pull the plug without hesitation."

She said that she understood, got up, unplugged the TV and threw out my bottle of beer.





(I love the "Rumpole of the Bailey" books, as in "The First Rumpole Omnibus" by John Mortimer (on Amazon). The books are better than the TV shows; you miss too many witticisms on the TV.)









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