Today’s topic is the 4 documents than any individual or family should have regarding advanced planning. These documents include the last will and testament, a health care proxy, a living will, and a durable power of attorney.
Almost everyone is familiar with the last will and testament whose main function is to dispose of property to your intended beneficiaries. You state who gets it and how they get it. Do they get it outright? Is it held in trust? Is it held in trust until a certain age? Who’s in charge? Who’s the executor to make sure that your wishes are carried out? These are all questions that need to be answered when preparing a last will.
A health proxy creates a principal agent relationship. You appoint an agent to act and speak on your behalf regarding medical decisions if you are unable to communicate. Interrelated with the health proxy is the living will which is a statement regarding your wishes in the event you were ever diagnosed to being in a permanent vegetative state. Essentially, these would be instructions to your healthcare agent on how to take care of your affairs should the unlikely happen.
Then there is a power of attorney. This document again creates the principal agent relationship, however the purpose monetary, not for health concerns. Where does it become important? As people grow older, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to handle their finances and it becomes critical if one were ever in need of nursing home help. An agent is in a better position to aid in financial eligibility with Medicaid in hopes to find funding for a nursing home bill, which in turn prevents the applicant from burning through their own resources.
If you would like more information on these cornerstone documents, please call us for an appointment and we will be happy to discuss your options.