- Will or trust. A trust has to be drawn through legal channels. A will can be drawn up with help or you can start by writing your own. (Holographic will) The more official it is, the more it will stand up to contestation. Even if you just write it and have it notarized, that is more sure than not having it notarized.
A will has to go through probate when you die. There is a fee for this- about $1000. The attorney who spoke to us will prepare a will for $150. (He is also our stake patriarch, so I would recommend him if you need a trustworthy attorney.)
A trust doesn't go through probate when you die, hence no fee and usually no taxes. He will set up a trust for $700.
- Guardianship This is usually part of your will or trust, but it determines who should care for your children if something happened to both parents. Save your kids and family members a custody battle and heartache. (By the way, ask a person or couple before you put them down as the guardians for your kids.)
- Durable power of attorney This document determines who should have control of your finances if you should become incapacitated or otherwise unable to control your finances. As my grandma suffered from Alzheimer's I saw this at work so my mom and her siblings could take care of Grandma- very important!
- Living will This informs your family and medical personnel whether or not you want life support or to what extent you would like them to work to save your life if you were seriously ill or injured. In all seriousness, I don't want to make the news like Terry Schaivo.
He also recommended buying burial plots sooner than later. They will only get more expensive. He does NOT recommend pre-paid funeral plans. There is no recourse if the funeral home goes out of business. Also, if I remember correctly, my grandpa was hit with more expenses when my grandma died even though they had prepaid.
Also, make sure the title to your home lists you and your spouse as joint tenants with rights of survivorship so the house doesn't go through probate!
I hope this is helpful to someone. I learned a lot. There was a lot more information, but this is the gist of it. If you are interested in talking to Brother Long, I can get you in touch with him. He is a very good man and would take good care of you!
(Side note: If you need an honest mortgage broker, my dad is the best! He always gets many comments from customers and real estate agents who are pleasantly surprised how lows his costs are, how quickly he can close, how easy he is work with, etc.)