Last Will and Testament
A person’s Will is the document that governs how his probate property is distributed upon his death, and also specifies who will be appointed as his Personal Representative to oversee the distribution of assets. A Will may also appoint Guardians for the decedent’s children upon his death.
Revocable and irrevocable inter vivos trusts are effective upon execution, in direct contrast to a Will, which is only effective upon a person’s death. A revocable trust allows the grantor to maintain control over the property, since the grantor can also be trustee. The trust’s terms can be changed at any time. If the trust is irrevocable, the grantor relinquishes control over the assets in favor of the trustee or co-trustees. The terms of the irrevocable trust can only be changed in limited circumstances. Irrevocable trusts come with the benefits of asset protection and limiting exposure to estate taxes.
Power of Attorney
Durable Powers of Attorney survive a person’s incapacity, and are effective upon execution. Granting a person power of attorney allows said person to act as your agent, and conduct financial transactions on your behalf. If a Power of Attorney is not durable, it will not survive the Principal’s incapacity.
Living Will/Designation of Heath Care Surrogate/HIPPA Release
The Living Will, Designation of Health Care Surrogate, and HIPPA Release allow a competent person to direct another to make health care decisons in the event of the Principal’s incapacity or inability to made said decisions for herself. The Living Will may provide specific health care directions, which the Health Care Surrogate will follow. These instructions may include whether or not to continue life prolonging measures. A HIPPA Release allows for a designated agent to obtain medical records and other personal information from medical providers.