Estate planning attorneys advise you to make your estate plan for any situation that might arise. Therefore, a good estate planning attorney will guide their clients through myriad “what-if’s” that may or may not occur many years in the future. If you get hit by a bus, you might die or you might not, so you need a portfolio of ‘living documents.’ In addition to a will and/or a trust, the documents should include the following:
Power of Attorney. Signing this document means that you give a trusted agent the power to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. You can also create two separate powers of attorney: one that gives authority to a business partner to make decisions concerning your farm or company; and one naming a spouse or family member to handle your personal finances.
Living Will. This document states your intent that, under certain circumstances, you want medical efforts to be withheld or withdrawn and that you want to be allowed to die naturally with only medication and procedures necessary for comfort and to alleviate pain. A living will can reduce some of the stress and burden from family members, in the event that they have to make an end-of-life decision.
Advance Medical Directives. In Virginia, this set of documents refers to the Healthcare Power of Attorney, the Living Will and the HIPAA release. It might be one document, but we do not recommend this format because of the diversity of intentions each document expresses.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Release. When a loved one or agent needs to access your otherwise private medical records, he or she needs to have your HIPAA release that authorizes him or her to have access to your medical records. This eliminates any bureaucratic red tape or delay if someone needs to make healthcare decisions.
This set of documents is critical to creating a comprehensive plan and to prevent unneeded stress on your family. We have made the process of requesting a complimentary consultation to discuss the planning needed to navigate the issues you will face as easy as possible. We can help.
Reference: AgPro (November 21, 2016) “4 Estate Planning Documents You Need Beyond a Will”