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Basic Estate Planning


Published by Luke Young

Once you have purchased a home, it’s important to protect that valuable asset by having a proper estate plan. Estate planning can be complex.  However, there are some basic issues that every person should consider, which are addressed by four (4) basic estate planning documents. Here are quick descriptions of the four documents home-owners should discuss with an estate planning attorney:

Last Will & Testament

Your Last Will and Testament states who gets things when you die. It is one way to say who gets your house when you die. It also names who takes care of things after you die: this person is called your Executor.  Your Will can also say who would be the Guardians of your minor children.  Your Will is administered through a court process called “probate.”


A Revocable Living Trust can also specify who gets things when you die—it can also say how things are handled if you are unable to make your own decisions.  It states who takes care of the assets you put into the Trust: this person is called your Trustee. You can title your house as an asset of your Trust.

Power of Attorney

A Durable General Power of Attorney declares who can make financial decisions if you are not able to make them.  Your agent under this document is known as your “Power of Attorney” or “Attorney-In-Fact.”  This person can sign your signature on your behalf.  You can give your Power of Attorney authority to buy or sell real estate.

Advance Medical Directive

An Advance Medical Directive says who can make health care decisions for you if you are not able to make them.  Your medical agent is simply known as your “Agent” for making health care decisions.

These 4 basic documents should be written by a qualified attorney.  American National Bank and Trust Company can serve as either: (1) Executor under a Will, (2) Trustee for a Revocable Living Trust, or (3) Agent for either an Executor or Trustee.  A third party Executor or Trustee like us, can be extremely beneficial.  We will work with you, your attorney, and your financial advisors to carry out your wishes.