The biggest mistake that many people make when it comes to taking action or thinking about estate planning is that they focus on the writing of a will and what will be left behind for others when they are gone. The truth is there are many facets of estate planning that directly affect you and how your life and assets will be handled if for some reason you are unable to make decisions for yourself while you are still alive. There are a handful of legal documents in the estate planning process that are crucial to you while you are still alive; we will cover each of these briefly below:
Advanced Health Care Directive (aka Medical Power of Attorney) - allows you to decide who will be deciding what the best options are as far as health care for you, should you become unable to make such decisions for yourself.
Living Will - Essentially is your personal list of do’s and don’t’s when it comes to your preferences of healthcare if you are nearing death and there is no hope of recovery.
Durable Power of Attorney - Ensures that your finances are properly handled while you are incapacitated. Someone trustworthy to you is designated to handle any and all financial obligations.
Revocable Living Trust - Acts as an essential super power of attorney, typically common in estates worth over $1 million, all of your assets are transferred into a trust and you designate yourself as a trustee. This way you still manage your assets until you become incapacitated, at which point your designated successor will then manage the trust.
HIPAA Release - Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Release form outlines who you designate as being able to have legal access to your medical records and communication with your doctors.
Organ Donation Authorization - allowing your organs to be donated either through your driver’s license, registering with an organ bank or with your hospital.