Avoid family conflict with these four estate planning documents

Those who wish to avoid family conflict should consider including certain documents as part of their estate plan.

Although the American Bar Association states that 55 percent of Americans pass away without some form of estate plan, planning for the future is essential for Texas families in all situations. Not only can putting together an estate plan ensure a person's belongings are managed as he or she desires after death, but a few key documents can help prevent or lessen family conflict.

1. Asset management power of attorney

An asset management power of attorney, according to Forbes, is a document designed to appoint someone to handle another person's financial affairs. When one of these documents is procured, an agent is allowed to immediately work on behalf of another person, which can be highly beneficial if that person were to become incapacitated.

2. Living trust

When a person dies, his or her assets can be transferred via a living trust. A living trust is beneficial because these documents lend themselves to greater flexibility and confidentiality and less cost when compared to a will that has to undergo the probate process. In order for a living trust to be as advantageous as possible, mutual funds, savings accounts and real estate must all be assigned to this estate planning vehicle.

3. Advanced health care directive

This estate planning document is created for the purpose of listing a person's health care preference to be used at any point when he or she becomes incapacitated. This document can inform hospitals, doctors and family members of the type of treatment the creator would want, and includes the names of the people who are allowed to make decisions on behalf of the person who created the directive.

4. Will

One of the most common types of estate planning documents, a will is what many people use to transfer their assets to their family members, friends or an organization after they die. While wills are relatively simple to put together, they often have to go through probate, which can be a time-consuming process. Even though those who have significant assets may create a living trust as part of their estate plan, they still need to have a will.

While putting together an estate plan is essential for families in Texas, the process can be overwhelming and oftentimes, stressful. Those looking to solidify their estate may benefit by seeking the expertise and advice of an attorney who can help them determine which documents they need to create as part of their estate plan.