Estate Plan Documents Everyone Should Consider
Regardless of how old you may or what stage of your life you might be in, there are a few estate plan documents that are essential to ensure that your finances can be managed without interruption and your health care decisions can be made with ease.
Power of AttorneyA Power of Attorney is a document in which you appoint one or more agents to assist you with your financial decisions. You are not giving up your authority to continue to handle financial decisions for yourself. You must be sure that you trust the people that you name as your agents since you are giving them authority to manage your finances. You can opt to do a durable power of attorney which takes effect upon your signing the document or a springing power of attorney which takes effect upon the happening of a particular event. A power of attorney ceases to be effective upon your death.
Advance DirectivesThis document addresses a few different issues - the appointment of a health care representatives as well as your written direction regarding life support. The appointment of a health care representative is just that; you appointing someone to make day to day health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to convey your wishes with respect to your health care. It is important to have a discussion with your health care representative, in advance of a medical event, to convey your health care wishes and to be sure that your health care representative will speak as to your wishes rather than be emotionally driven and make a decision that may be contrary to your wishes. The living will portion of this document include your wishes with respect to life support in the event you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious and machines are keeping you alive. Your health care representative would be tasked with conveying these decisions; however, it is important for your wishes to be in writing.
Designation of ConservatorIn most cases, the agent under a Power of Attorney and the person named as your health care representative will have all of the authority they need in order to handle your financial and health care decisions. There are situations, however, that do arise when it becomes necessary for a Conservator to be appointed for you through the Probate Court. This document allows you to name the people that you would like named as your Conservators in the event it becomes necessary for you to have one. The Probate Court will give deference to this document in a Conservatorship proceeding and, assuming, the people named in this document are determined by the Court to be the best people for the job under the current set of circumstances, they will be named as your Conservators.
Last Will & TestamentThis document disposes of your solely-owned assets upon your death. It also names a person or persons to act as your Executor upon your death. The Executor is the person that will handle the filing of paperwork with the probate court. Your will allows you to dispose of your solely-owned assets in whatever manner you decide. Your will does not dispose of assets that have a beneficiary named which is other than your estate or assets that are jointly held.