Estate Planning is the area of the law which deals with putting property to the best possible use for your benefit during your lifetime and for the benefit of your “beneficiaries” after your death. If the estate has been well planned, your assets should be distributed according to your wishes at a minimum of time and expense.
Estate Plans have multiple components. The components used within your Estate Plan depend on your financial and personal circumstance along with how you intend for your assets to be managed while alive and deceased.
Regardless of your personal situation, an Estate Plan should have at a minimum:
Here is a quick definition of each of the elements of an Estate Plan:
A Living Trust
The document that states how your assets are distributed upon your passing.
This is a “safety net” to your Trust, If something is not within your Trust, you can specify how it is distributed within your Will.
If you are married, this document defines how property is characterized within your trust.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Property and Personal Affairs
This states how you wish for your property and personal affairs to be managed in the event of your incapacitation.
Your Advance Health Care Directives
This states who are your Health Care Agents and specifies instructions to an assigned Health Care Agent.
Authorization for Release of Medical Information
(HIPAA Waiver) This states who has authority to access your medical records.