Estate planning allows us to plan for and protect our loved ones after we’re gone, but it also serves important roles while we’re still living. It’s more than preparing a will and attempting to divide assets in a fair manner. Here are four ways to make the most of your estate planning today.
A healthcare proxy is an important tool from both a medical and legal perspective. It’s designed to ensure your wishes are met regarding your health, courtesy of your designee and your medical power of attorney or health care proxy. While the obvious answer is your spouse, there are reasons some people opt to name someone other than the missus. Many may wish to not place an overwhelming choice on a spouse and instead name someone who can better shoulder the responsibility without heavy emotions.
Another important estate planning document is the revocable trust or living trust, as it’s sometimes described. Its sole purpose is to allow you to name someone to make financial decisions if you become incapacitated. What makes these documents a wise choice is you maintain control over your assets and should something happen, your designee steps in until you’re able to make those decisions for yourself. If you die, the revocable trust outlines the distribution of your assets. Keep in mind that a durable power of attorney differs in that it doesn’t play a role in how your assets are distributed should you die. Still, in many instances, these are ideal choices for many. Your estate planning lawyer can provide further guidance for your unique needs.
Your living will is a document that stipulates your preferences regarding those extraordinary measures that would keep you alive. For instance, would you want to be resuscitated if there were no brain activity? Would you want to be kept alive via feeding tubes? This can be as specific as you choose and can ease the emotional decision making process for family members in a difficult time as they’re trying to understand what each decision means.
You may not have heard much about HIPAA authorizations in recent years; however, they are significant in the healthcare field. Sometimes, even with a valid health care power of attorney, some medical providers may hesitate when it comes to releasing medical information – even if you’re the spouse or a child of the patient. This is because of the tighter restrictions associated with new healthcare laws and advances in the technology. A HIPAA authorization eliminates any barriers and allows medical professionals to move forward with no fear of being sued.
Remember though, these documents are only as good as your planning. The sooner you put them in place, the better. It also lessens the chances that a family member makes an argument that you lack the capacity to make decisions on your own since you’ve made the arrangements ahead of time as part of your estate planning process. Contact our offices today on how to put that foundation into place or to begin the estate planning process.
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