Last Will & Testament
A will, sometimes called a Last Will & Testament, is an important legal document where you get to specify who gets your money or property when you die. These people, charities, or companies that you name are known as your beneficiaries.
Aside from ensuring that your beneficiaries receive the money or property you intend to give, a will does other important things for you too. A will names a Personal Representative who will be responsible for collecting your assets, opening a probate if the law requires one, ensuring that the wishes you expressed in your will are met, paying the creditors you may still have, and finalizing your taxes.
A Living Will is the document that directs your family and your doctors how to treat you in life support situations. If you have an incurable injury, disease, illness, or find yourself in a persistent or permanent vegetative state or irreversible coma, this document makes certain that you:
Are kept alive on life support and other life sustaining measures are taken, OR
Directs that you be allowed to die naturally without these extraordinary measures
If you do not have a document making your decisions known, your family may be locked in years of legal battles, or find they have no say whatsoever in the medical decision.
If you have strong feelings on this subject, it is critical to make plans now.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney
A Financial Power of Attorney, sometimes called a Durable, Durable General, or Durable Financial Power of Attorney is a document that names the person or persons that you authorize to make decisions about your financial life while you are alive, but unable to to make decisions for yourself. In some cases this is because you are out of the country, or otherwise indisposed. In other cases, you may be undergoing medical care or have suffered an injury that limits your ability to act for yourself.
If you do not have a Financial Power of Attorney or other legal document appointing a representative, your family may be required to spend multiple thousands of dollars in legal fees to get a court order appointing them as your conservator. Everyone should have a Financial Power of Attorney.
Mental Health Care Power of Attorney
A mental health care power of attorney ensures that in the event you are mentally incapacitated that you wishes are adhered to. It sets forth the rules for how doctors are to treat you, as well as establishes who will be responsible to ensure you receive proper care.
Durable Medical Power of Attorney
A properly executed Medical, or Health Care Power of Attorney authorized people that you have selected to make decisions concerning your medical care and treatment if you are unable to do so. As an example, if your physician wanted permission to perform a complicated surgery to help you recover, and your son says yes and your daughter says no, the doctor might require them to go to court and obtain an order to authorize the procedure.
While not used everyday, this document can save your family thousands of dollars in the event that it is needed. It is my view that everyone should have a Medical Power of Attorney to ensure they are cared for properly.
Revocable Living Trust
A Revocable Living Trust is an estate planning vehicle by which you plan for and direct the manner in which your property and assets are handled while you are alive and following your death. In most cases and for most people, it is the easiest and best way to prepare in advance to ensure that your loved ones can manage your affairs with as little hardship as possible.
A Revocable Living Trust, when prepared correct and properly funded, can accomplish the following:
- Avoid the necessity of a probate
- Avoid the necessity of a conservatorship
- Avoid court involvement
- Keep financial records private
- You control what beneficiaries receive
- Simple to make changes as your circumstances change
Notably, it is important to understand what a Revocable Trust DOES NOT do:
- Does not protect assets from creditors while you are alive
- Does not need to file special taxes
In my view, a well drafted Revocable Trust is the best value in estate planning.
Disclaimer: The information in this web site is not intended to constitute legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. The information, documents, or forms provided herein are intended for general information purposes only and must not be relied upon as legal advice. As laws regularly change, the information found on this site may not be current or accurate. You are strongly encouraged to seek out your own legal counsel in order to ensure that your rights are protected and your legal obligations met.