It’s common for older adults to put off estate planning. Many of us don’t want to think about planning for a severe illness, death or considering the difficult decisions that may need to be made. However, delaying estate planning or not doing it at all only increases chances for confusion, family disagreements and even court battles. That’s why there’s no better time to start estate planning than the present!
Elder law Attorney Bethany Stickradt, featured in the recent webinar, “Estate Planning 2020,” sponsored by Kendal at Granville retirement community, listed the top five most important estate planning documents adults should have as:
- Living Will
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- General Durable Power of Attorney (Finances)
- Last Will & Testament
1. Living Will
A living will is a written, legal document that spells out medical treatments you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive, as well as your preferences for other medical decisions, such as pain management or organ donation. It guides your physician and family in making difficult decisions at that time.
When deciding what you want in your living will think about your values. How important is it to you to be independent and self-sufficient? Would you want treatment to extend your life in any situation? Would you want treatment only if a cure is possible?
2. Health Care Power of Attorney
A Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPA) assigns a specific person(s) to act on your behalf in making health care decisions, such as hiring medical personnel, determining the best place to receive care and consent to or refuse medical treatment. It goes into effect when the principal (or owner of the HCPA) is debilitated or becomes too ill to communicate his or her wishes about medical treatment
It’s important to note a Health Care Power of Attorney does not give oversight of finances, as that requires a General Durable Power of Attorney.
3. General Durable Power of Attorney
A General Durable Power of Attorney is all about legal and financial decisions, therefore, each one is unique to each person’s situation. For a General Durable Power of Attorney, you, as the principal, name an agent to act on your behalf in financial, legal and property matters spelled out in the agreement, in the event you cannot make those decisions.
For those who want to ensure more control, they often choose a Springing Power of Attorney, meaning it does not go into effect until the occurrence of a specific event, such as having a physician state the principal needs assistance with decision making or is incompetent.
4. Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament goes into effect after death and designates where all of your assets will go. The executor named in the will is the person who manages assets through court proceedings and distribution. A big misconception is that a last will and testament prevents an estate from having to go through probate court, which is not necessarily the case. Learn more in the webinar:
Watch Now: “Probate Court: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly”
A big misconception in creating a trust is that it is only for wealthy people. That is simply not true. A trust allows people to guide their assets after they have passed away, to help ensure the assets get where they want them to go. It also allows certain rules to be implemented, such as when the assets can be accessed.
A revocable living trust is one type of trust often used in an estate plan. By transferring assets into a revocable trust, you can provide for continued management of your financial affairs at your death and for generations to come. Your revocable living trust lets trust assets avoid probate court and reduces the chance that personal information will become part of public records.
Ready to learn more? Watch “Estate Planning 2020” now to get started on your plans today!
Free Legal Advice: Estate Planning 2020
35-Minute Virtual Seminar