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Estate Planning Tips

Did You Know?

Trust vs. Will

A Will is a declaration of your wishes regarding how you want your assets and property distributed upon your death. It can also include instructions about the care of minor children. Typically, a Will is subject to Probate which is a legal process administered by the appropriate court in your state. Probate can be an expensive and lengthy process.

A Trust, also known as a Living Trust, sets forth the terms of your wishes regarding distribution of your assets. However, in most states, a Trust is not subject to Probate. Your wishes are carried out per your instructions for the management of assets placed in the Trust prior to death.

Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)

Did you know that a general power-of-attorney document is null and void if you become incapacitated or mentally incompetent? That’s right – when you’re unable to make your own decisions, a Power of Attorney document must include the word “Durable” to show your intent and to remain in effect.

With a comprehensive DPOA, you can select a trusted individual and direct him or her to make specific decisions about your property, finances, investments and paying your bills, and to sign documents on your behalf. Without a DPOA, your state court will appoint a Guardian if you become incapacitated. This can be a time-consuming, costly process and the Guardian may not be the person you would have wanted to handle your financial affairs.

Health Care Directives

When a health crisis leaves you unable to make decisions for yourself, a Healthcare Directive helps ensure that your preferences for medical treatment are respected. The official titles of these legal documents vary from state to state and it’s important to check which documents your state law requires.

If you become incapacitated without the Health Care Directive required by your state, a court will appoint a legal Guardian to make all decisions regarding your health care, medical treatments and medical procedures. Health care directives are not just for the elderly or terminally ill. Life-threatening tragedies can happen at any age.

Living Will

A Living Will is a binding legal document that expresses your wishes for Health Care treatment when two licensed physicians declare you permanently unconscious and unable to make your own decisions.

A Living Will clearly states your preferences for treatment, end-of-life comfort/care and life-sustaining decisions including:

  • CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) or “Do Not Resuscitate”  (DNR)

  • Ventilator use for breathing

  • Artificial nutrition (feeding tube)

  • Artificial hydration (IV or intravenous fluids)

 

Disclosure: This information is being provided only as a general source of information and is not intended to be the primary basis for financial decisions. It should not be construed as advice designed to meet the needs of an individual situation. Please seek the guidance of a financial professional regarding your particular financial needs. Consult with your tax advisor or attorney regarding specific tax or legal advice.

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