Estate planning can be overwhelming and confusing! Here are some things to keep in mind.
Last Will and Testament: A written document with instructions for disposing of assets after death.
Durable Power of Attorney: A legal document that gives another person full or limited legal authority to sign your name on your behalf in your absence. Valid through incapacity. Ends at death.
Health Care Power of Attorney: A legal document that lets you give someone else the authority to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them for yourself. Also called a health care proxy or medical power of attorney.
Living Will: A legal document that states you do not wish to be kept alive by artificial means when the illness or injury is terminal.
HIPAA Waiver: This document allows your health care providers to discuss any aspect of your medical information with those individuals you give such authority.
Revocable Trust: A trust in which the person setting it up retains the power to change (revoke) or cancel the trust during his/her lifetime. It holds assets for the benefit of certain other persons or entities.
Certification of Trust: A shortened version of a trust that verifies the trust’s existence, explains the powers given to the trustee, and identifies the successor trustee(s). Does not reveal any information about the trust assets, beneficiaries, or their inheritances.
Deed: Document that allows you to transfer title to real estate. With a warranty deed, the person guarantees that the title being transferred is clear (free of any encumbrances).
You need a Will if:
You have minor children for whom you want to name a guardian.
You want to ensure that when you pass away, your assets go to your spouse and not your children from a prior marriage.
You need a Durable General Power of Attorney if:
You want to avoid a guardianship proceeding if you are incapacitated.
You want to give your loved ones control of your finances if you are incapacitated.
You have a college-age child and you want to be able to legally handle their finances now that they have reached adulthood.
You need a Health Care Power of Attorney if:
You want to disclose your choice to be buried or cremated, as well as any special wishes regarding your final disposition.
You want to clarify your wishes and intentions regarding organ donation.
You need a Living Will if:
You want to make your wishes clear so your family doesn’t have to decide if they should take you off life support if you’re terminal.
You need a Trust if:
You want to ensure your beneficiaries don’t receive their inheritance in one lump sum.
You want to avoid probate for your loved ones.
You want to prevent your spouse from changing the plan you created together.
You have real property in multiple states.