Our readers may have seen a recent post here that discussed the wide variety of options that Iowa residents may consider when it comes to putting together a comprehensive estate plan. No two plans are the same, as each will vary depending on the financial and family circumstances of each person putting a plan together. So, what should you include in your estate plan?

A recent article addressed some of the options to consider, including wills, trusts, power of attorney documents and living wills. For many people, all of these estate planning instruments will be part of their comprehensive estate plan. Most people already know that a will is intended to be a set of instructions for how to distribute assets from the deceased person’s estate. But, for those with minor children, the document has another important function as well: appointing a guardian or guardians for those minor children. The recent post here about estate planning also mentioned how trusts can be used to avoid probate, but trusts can serve other purposes as well, including putting restraints on assets to avoid, as the recent article noted, “spending sprees” by family members who may not be all that responsible with the funds that will be inherited.

A living will is a document that can be easy to overlook when putting together an estate plan. This document is very different from a “will.” A “living will” provides instructions for end-of-life care. The document states, for example, whether or not all means of life-saving procedures should be implemented in a tragic situation that imperils your life.

In the end, the specific documents that should be included in your estate plan will depend on your overall analysis of how best to distribute assets and appoint people to make decisions for you if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so. Iowa residents will likely need to get more information about their own specific legal needs.