Estate Plan Essentials

A surprising number of people have not yet attended to their estate planning. Perhaps this is because estate planning has become so much more complicated in recent years, even though the burden of taxes at death has been in decline. Estate planning now usually covers medical and financial decisions before the end of life, as well as after death.

Here are the documents that will be drafted for many estate plans today and what each of them does:

Financial Documents:

Will- Identifies beneficiaries. May establish one or more trusts for ongoing asset management. Nominates the person or organization to be responsible for estate settlement.

Power of attorney- Delegates authority to an agent to make financial decisions. The agent’s authority ends when the principal is incapacitated.

Durable power of attorney- Delegates financial decision power to an agent, even if the principal is incapacitated. In some cases, the power “springs” into being upon incapacity or other identified event.

Revocable living trust- Transfers assets and full financial management authority to a trustee. The trust may continue into incapacity, even beyond the death of the trustor.

Medical Documents:

Power of attorney for health care (sometimes called a health care proxy)- Identifies an individual to make medical decisions when one is unconscious or incapacitated.

Living will- Provides guidelines for medical decisions when an individual becomes terminally ill, such as whether feeding tubes or ventilators should be used to prolong life.

Do not resuscitate order (DNR)- Specifically requests that cardiopulmonary resuscitation not be used if one’s heart or breathing stops.
Source: Merrill Anderson Company

As TCK CEO, Stephen A. English, mentioned in his “Many Hats in Trust Administration” article earlier this month, “modern trust drafting, tax uncertainty, longevity, and a range of other factors are transforming how trusts are planned, drafted, and administered. The wide array of positions, fiduciary and non-fiduciary, that may be included in a trust instrument are among the most affected areas. Creative and careful selection of these positions, and the persons named to serve in them, can infuse substantial flexibility into trust planning.”

At The Trust Company of Kansas, we help people. We promise to minimize the burden of wealth management, and bestow the freedom to enjoy everything else.
As our longtime partners will tell you, we help our clients accomplish their goals, not our own. And we stay focused on the financial aspects of their lives so that they can stay focused on their priorities.
The officers at The Trust Company of Kansas are always willing to discuss your goals for your estate and help you to create a plan that is well-aligned with your wishes. Trusts are one of our core competencies. If you have a specific question about wealth management or trusts, please contact us at (800) 530-5254 or visit, and one of our Certified Trust and Financial Advisors will be happy to assist you.