Creating an Estate Plan can be confusing and time consuming if you try to do it on your own. Working with a trusted attorney who understands the law in the state you reside in will drastically cut down on stress and ensure you provide for your beneficiaries. Having the necessary documents in your plan, above and beyond your Will or Trust, will help your family to have your wishes followed during a difficult time. In my practice, I have a few documents that I do in every Estate Plan I draft for my clients regardless of the complexity of their Estate.
Power of Attorney
A written authorization for someone to act on your behalf in private, business or lgeal affairs is a Power of Attorney. The most common Power of Attorney documents are:
- Health Care Surrogate Designation – medical and health care decision making ability, as well as access to records, insurance, and providers.
- Durable Power of Attorney – financial management, in times of sickness and/or health
A written document or statement in which you detail your wishes regarding medial treatment and life-sustaining efforts in case your become incapacitated and cannot longer express informed consent is a a Living Will, or Advance Directive. This doesn’t have to do with your assets, but it’s important to have for the sake of your loved ones. It can help them know what you want to happen during an extremely difficult time. The difference between the Health Care Surrogate and the Living Will is that the Health Care Surrogate is written for times of poor health, when you are unable to make your own decisions, yet the thought is that there will be survival with quality of life. The Living Will is essentially the document that says “turn it off if there is no hope”.
Having these basic Estate Planning documents in place and reviewing them regularly will help ensure that your affairs and care are easily managed when you are unable to manage them yourself.