In the last installment we established that there are three main documents you will need in order to delegate control as the end of your life becomes inevitable or you pass away. A durable power of attorney, a release of information and an advance directive each have a distinct role. Each document serves a purpose to establish the direction of your care whether you are still living and unable to care for yourself or have passed away.
A power of attorney is drawn up in the presence of an attorney and witnesses. The document states in writing the person you are appointing to be in charge of your finances and legal affairs.
A release of information document is given to hospital personnel to allow them permission to discuss your medical history and take actions regarding your medical health. The designated representative will receive valuable information regarding your medical records.
An advance directive is drawn up to allow people to make decisions on your behalf. A durable power of attorney for health care allows you to name a representative to be in charge of making medical decisions on your behalf. A living will is in place to help guide your durable power of attorney for health care. It specifically lays out the medical treatment you are willing to receive verse that which you do not wish to receive during critical moments.
An estate planning attorney will draw up the necessary papers to help your family avoid probate. During the probate process, without the proper paperwork in place, the court will decide upon all matters having to do with your estate.
This entire process can cost between a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on court costs, filing forms and having the court settle your debt and distribute. No matter which route probate takes your family has no control. This all can all be avoided by meeting with an estate planning attorney and getting the proper paperwork in place.
In estate planning an attorney will help you to set up a trust. A trust is set up to allow your possessions to go to the named trustees upon your death. While you are living you remain a trustee and therefore the control of the trust remains with you. With a trust in place you avoid probate, fees and public scrutiny of your private affairs.
Another benefit of estate planning is the ability to divvy up your personal belongings as you wish. This helps to avoid conflicts that arise during the emotional period after your passing. One way that this can be set up if you aren't interested in going through each and every item you own is to create a specific strategy for dividing your property. A creative way to do this is to allow your executor control to set up an online auction between members of your family. Each member is allotted a certain number of tokens or credits to bid on items that they wish to own. Another option is to start gifting items as you see fit while you are still alive which allows you to see your loved ones enjoying them.
Estate planning also allows for you to create an individualized memorial and funeral. If you are interested in a celebration of life over a mournful gathering create a personalized plan of action to be followed upon your passing. This allows you to be in control to decide if you will choose to be cremated or buried, if you will have a religious burial or other specific details that may be important to you it is crucial that you prepare in writing these desires.
Estate planning is as much for the living as it is the deceased. Contact a local estate planning attorney for more information on providing your family with the peace of mind they desire in the event of your untimely passing.
The Law Office of Sean J. Nichols is dedicated to assisting clients throughout legal issues that come with aging including: elder law, estate planning, probate law and more. Check out the Law Office of Sean J. Nichols at http://www.seanjnichols.com to contact an estate attorney today.