A will or trust is the foundation for every good estate plan, as the document will determine what happens to your estate after you pass.
However, there are additional documents to include in your estate plan that will benefit you in case you are ever unable to make decisions for yourself before death.
A durable power of attorney
A durable power of attorney gives a person of your choosing the power to make financial or legal decisions for you if you become unable to do so yourself due to illness or injury. For example, they can pay bills, file taxes or make investment decisions while you are unable to do so.
A medical power of attorney
A medical power of attorney, also known as a healthcare power of attorney, gives someone you choose the power to make medical decisions for you if you ever become incapacitated through illness or injury. Choose someone you trust and let them know you are giving them this possible future responsibility so that you can discuss your healthcare wishes.
A living will
A living will is a document that dictates your healthcare wishes in the case of permanent incapacitation and generally focuses on end-of-life care decisions. It does not come into effect until you are permanently incapacitated, so a medical power of attorney is still needed for all other incapacitating health situations where you could recover.
You may choose the same person to be the executor of your estate, your durable power of attorney and your medical power of attorney or you may assign those positions to different people. Choose the person you think will faithfully follow your wishes in each situation.