Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning
If you die without a will, the law disposes of your property and it may pass to heirs you would not have chosen. A will allows you to leave your property to the persons you desire and not the persons chosen by the law. In addition, you can designate the person or persons who will care for your minor children or set up a trust that becomes effective when you die.
Durable Powers of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a written instrument by which you appoint and grant an attorney-in-fact or agent powers with respect to your property and financial matters. If you are incapacitated and no longer able to make decisions about your financial assets, a court can appoint a legal guardian to manage your estate, which can be a time-consuming and expensive process. However, if your estate plan includes a durable power of attorney, you will have already outlined who is in charge of your property and financial matters and a legal guardianship may not be necessary.
A trust is a relationship where property is held by one party (the trustee) for the benefit of another (the beneficiary). Placing property in trust transfers it from your personal ownership to the trustee; the trustee has legal title to the trust property. Whether you should have a trust depends on your circumstances including the size of your estate and the purpose of the trust.
Medical Power of Attorney
Who makes important decisions about your medical treatment if you are no longer able to? You can, if you include a medical power of attorney and directive to physicians (commonly referred to as a “living will”) in your estate plan. A medical power of attorney allows you to designate a person (your agent) to make your health care decisions for you when you are no longer capable of making them yourself. A directive to physicians allows you to designate, before the need arises, instructions on the use or withholding of life-sustaining procedures.