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4 Essential Estate-Planning Documents

Updated: May 18, 2022

Est. Reading: 2 minutes

No one estate plan is exactly like another one; each planner’s situation is different, as are their goals. There are a few popular documents, though, that are important for the majority of estate planners. We have given four examples below that should help you get an idea of what your estate plan might look like. 

Advance Healthcare Directive

If you have ever had to visit the emergency room, you were probably asked whether or not you had a living Will. An advance healthcare directive is, essentially, the same thing as a living Will. This document will lay out specifics for your desired medical care you wish to receive in the event you cannot communicate those wishes. This can be uncomfortable to think about, but putting your wishes in writing can save your loved ones much heartache and give you peace of mind. 

4 Essential Estate Planning Documents - Monahan Law Firm

Last Will and Testament

This document, usually referred to as simply a Will, is commonly known as the foundation of any estate plan. One reason for this is that a Will can accomplish several different things for estate planners. For one, it can lay out how you want the contents of your estate distributed to beneficiaries after you pass away. Your Will should name a trusted individual, referred to as the “personal representative,” to make sure your wishes are fulfilled and instructions are followed. Another important use of a Last Will and Testament is naming guardians for your minor children. 

Living Trust

For estates worth a certain amount, a trust makes sense for several reasons. An attractive reason for creating a trust for one’s estate is the ability to avoid estate taxes. The state of Arizona does not collect estate taxes, and the federal exemption amount is $11,580,000 or less. Another benefit of trusts is that your loved ones will be able to avoid the hassles of probate court, thus receiving their inheritance in a speedy manner.

In a trust, an individual places certain property and assets so ownership is contained in one central location. There are different types of trusts; living trusts kick in as soon as they are signed, and the individual who created it retains control over the items in the trust as the grantor/original trustee. When the grantor passes away, the successor trustee he or she named assumes control of the trust and its contents.

Power of Attorney

There are several different power-of-attorney types. Someone you designate as a general power of attorney has relatively broad authority to act on your behalf, including on various financial matters, but does not have the power to direct medical care if you become incapacitated. A durable health care power of attorney is specifically designed to give someone that authority. An experienced estate-planning attorney will be able to advise you on the power-of-attorney designations that make sense for you and your situation.


The best way to ensure your estate plan works for you, your loved ones, and your intended beneficiaries is to get in touch with an experienced estate-planning practice like Monahan Law Firm. Call our office at 623-385-3190 to discuss how we can help.

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Attorney Patrick Monahan

Patrick Monahan

Patrick Monahan is the managing partner of Monahan Law Firm, PLC. Patrick began his legal career practicing real estate, construction, and general business litigation.
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