Last month we reviewed the basic types of estate plans, which were dieing “intestate” (with no plan), wills and trusts. This month we move to the other documents you will need to consider as part of your estate plan.Why more documents? Wouldn’t my will or trust take care of these potential situations? When you stop and think about it, a will does not become operational until you die. Should you become incapacitated due to an accident or illness and not be able to act on your own behalf, you need a directive for someone to act for you. If you do not have that directive, you, your spouse or another interested party may end with a living probate. Guardianship and conservatorship are two designations provided by probate court; you are wheeled in for the hearing, while your spouse or another interested informs the judge as to why you need the two protections.This is where you lose control over your own destiny plus your hard-earned money. The court may rule that you need a “friend of the court,” also known as a “guardian ad litem.” The “friend or guardian” charges by the hour, and an attorney is usually appointed by the court to review the guardian ad litem’s documents – that costs money as well.Who pays for all of this? You do.So what are these documents?
- “Durable Powers of Attorney” designates a selected person or persons to act on one’s behalf even during times of incapacitation. The power of attorney can act in financial matters as well as property matters.
- “Health Care Proxy” designates the person who will make health care decisions. Remember, they decide which nursing home you go to!
- “Living Will” or “Health Care Directive”, which is needed when enough is enough. Do you want cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) when you have already died?
- Locator – where are your investment accounts, life insurance, long-term care insurance policies.
- Medical records
- Safe deposit boxes