Once you start planning for your estate you can quickly get bogged down trying to figure out what all of the different estate planning documents are. There are all sorts of different legal documents that are not familiar to most non-attorneys. This often confuses people enough that they give up and delay getting an estate plan.
However, it does not have to be that complicated.
A good way to think about the different documents is to put them into two basic categories, as the Motley Fool discusses in "The Estate-Planning Documents Everyone Needs."
The first type of estate planning document determines what happens to your belongings after you pass away. This category includes wills, most trusts and even things like a retirement account that has a beneficiary designation.
The second type of estate planning document determines who takes care of your affairs if you are not able to do so. This category includes powers of attorney and advanced health care directives.
Who do you want to have your possessions after you pass away and who would you like to take care of your affairs if you cannot? Answer these questions, and then go to an experienced estate planning attorney. Tell the attorney your answers, and let the attorney figure out the documents you need to give your answers legal effect.
Reference: Motley Fool (Nov. 7, 2016) "The Estate-Planning Documents Everyone Needs."