Estate Planning Essentials
You are probably here because you don’t know where to start. These are the estate planning essentials that you need to know. Establishing your estate requires three fundamental documents: a last will and testament, a healthcare proxy, and a power of attorney.
Estate Planning Essentials | Will
Your will designates where your assets will go (within the restrictions explained above). It names beneficiaries (which may be people or institutions) as well as an executor, who will handle your will through the probate process, and a trustee, who will handle the distribution or management of your estate afterwards. It can also include provisions for the care of your children, including the appointment of a guardian.
Estate Planning Essentials | Healthcare Proxy
A healthcare proxy allows you to designate someone to make healthcare decisions for you. This is not an unqualified delegation of power. The healthcare proxy will only go into effect if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions. Your physician will decide whether you are capable of making your own healthcare decisions. You can also include instructions about specific scenarios in this document. The healthcare proxy will be bound by these instructions, up to the point at which there is no clear indication of your wishes. This isn’t, then, a document granting total control over your life to one person. Instead, it names someone who can act based on your stated wishes and what he or she knows of your beliefs.
You should give your physician a copy of your healthcare proxy document as soon as you’ve completed it.
Estate Planning Essentials | Power of Attorney
Power of attorney, like a healthcare proxy, is a designation triggered if and when you become incapable of making sound decisions on your own. Whereas a healthcare proxy will be making stressful but limited decisions, someone with power of attorney could be facing a relatively mundane but more time-consuming job. This person will take care of your household expenses, mortgage payments, other bills, and the proper deposit of incoming funds.
This should be a durable (or permanent) power of attorney – temporary power of attorney documents serves in other, less common scenarios.
If you want to know more about these estate planning essentials, please call our Buffalo estate planning attorney today for a free consultation.