What Estate Planning Documents Should I Consider?

Will

A Will is a legal document stating who you want to receive your property upon your death, who you want to settle your estate upon your death, who you want to have custody of any minor child or children that you have at the time of your death, and who you want to take care of any property that is left to your minor children.

Power of Attorney

Financial Power of Attorney:

A Financial Power of Attorney is a written, legal document that authorizes another person to act on your behalf. The financial power of attorney may be narrowly defined, in which case it would be called a limited power of attorney. A power of attorney can be written so that it only takes effect if you become mentally incapacitated. It allows another person to make bank transactions, sign Social Security checks and other income checks, apply for disability, write checks to pay bills, sell property, liquidate assets, etc.

Durable Power of Attorney:

A Durable Power of Attorney is a written, legal document that authorizes another person to act on your behalf. The durable power of attorney is effective as soon as it is signed and will stay in effect even if you become mentally incapacitated. A durable power of attorney allows another person to make bank transactions, sign Social Security checks and other income checks, apply for disability, write checks to pay bills, sell property, liquidate assets, etc.

Health Care Power of Attorney

A Health Care Power of Attorney is a written, legal document that authorizes another person to make medical decisions on your behalf in the case you are not able to do so due to an incapacitating medical or mental health condition, it is different from a living will (advance directive), as the living will directs what medical services you would want if you are in the end stages of life, whereas the medical power of attorney will appoint a person to make decisions for you during those times in your life that you are not in the end stages of life, but times that you are not able to make medical decisions yourself due to your health condition.

Living Will (Advance Directive)

A Living Will is a written, legal document, typically signed in advance while in good health, that specifies the decisions a person wish to be made about his or her medical treatment in his or her end stages of life, in the event he or she is unable to make or communicate them at that time.

Trust

A legal entity to which you transfer your assets for management by a Trustee. It can be either revocable or irrevocable if made during the lifetime, and if often referred to as a Living Trust. A Testamentary Trust is a trust that is established under a person’s will and becomes effective at that person’s death.