Legal Blog

October 17, 2019

3 Legal Documents Everyone Needs

Most people tend to think of wills or trusts when they hear or read about estate planning.  While a will or trust may be appropriate in achieving your specific goals, there are three other estate planning documents that everyone should consider including in their plan:

  1. A Living Will
  2. A Designation of Healthcare Surrogate (sometimes referred to as a Medical Power of Attorney)
  3. A Financial Power of Attorney, also known as a Durable Power of Attorney

Planning for Medical Emergencies with a Living Will and Healthcare Directives

You want to be sure that your family or trusted friend has the necessary decision-making authority should a medical emergency arise and you’re unable to make decisions for yourself.

A Living Will allows you to state your wishes about the type of medical treatment you do, or don’t, want to receive if you are in a persistent vegetative state, end stage condition or terminally ill and not expected to recover.

A Healthcare Directive, or Designation of Healthcare Surrogate, allows you to choose a trusted family member or friend who will be responsible for making healthcare decisions if, for any reason, you lose the ability to make them for yourself.

By planning ahead and creating a Living Will and Healthcare Directive you are making your wishes both known and legally enforceable. If you haven’t reviewed your healthcare documents in the last three years, now is the time to sit with an experienced estate planning attorney and ensure that your documents still reflects your current wishes. Call us today if you have any questions about health care decisions and how to best communicate them to your loved ones.

Planning for Property Management with a Financial Power of Attorney

A Financial Power of Attorney allows you to select a trusted family member or friend who will be responsible for managing your money and other property if you become mentally incompetent.  Without this document, bank and investment accounts held in your name will become inaccessible, IRA distributions can’t be requested, bills won’t get paid, tax returns won’t be filed, and property can’t be bought or sold. Instead, a loved one may be forced into court to be appointed as the legal guardian, and a judge will oversee the guardian’s every move. A Financial Power of Attorney can provide authority to handle these issues without the court’s involvement.  A durable power of attorney will be valid even after you become disabled or incapacitated, which is why it is a popular planning tool.

A Good Estate Plan Needs Up to Date “Ancillary” Documents

In the estate planning community, Living Wills, Healthcare Directives and Powers of Attorney are called “ancillary” documents. But don’t be fooled by the name – these documents are all essential to a comprehensive estate plan and should be updated as lives, finances, and laws change. call us today.  with your questions, we’re always here to help.

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