The following are what we recommend for every responsible adult. Basically, these documents speak for you when you can’t. These important legal papers let your family and friends know your decisions about issues that are important to you, such as: how your property should be distributed, how you would like your children to be raised and financially cared for, termination of life decisions, and many more issues.

Here are the Documents:

  1. Living Will (Declaration of Right to Terminate Life)
  2. Power of Attorney for Healthcare
  3. Power of Attorney for Property (Financial Matters)
  4. Will and/or Trust

Living Will – A living will is basically your written statement, that if a doctor familiar with your condition feels that there is little or no hope for your survival, this document then instructs the doctor and your family to cease all heroic efforts to keep you alive.

This document only controls your medical care when you have an incurable illness, injury or disease that will ultimately lead to your death within a short period of time.

Power of Attorney for Healthcare – A healthcare power of attorney can override the living will. This document allows you to choose a person who will speak for you as to medical decisions and what type of care, if any, you should receive. Your “agent” is the person you name to make these decisions and you are referred to as the “principal”. Due to certain restrictions in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) , it may be difficult to obtain medical records without a properly drawn Power of Attorney for Health Care.

Power of Attorney for Property – This document allows your agent to handle various types of financial matters and more in your behalf if you are unable to do so personally.

Will – A will is blueprint/instruction to the probate court as to how you would like your estate distributed. It tells the judge who should receive your property, who should raise your minor children, if any, and who should act as your representative in court.

Trust – A trust is simply an agreement or contract between a group of people. Those persons would be: the person who sets up the trust and is referred to as the “Grantor”; a person who manages your property who is referred to as the “Trustee”; and one or more persons referred to as the “Beneficiary” or “Beneficiaries”. Nowadays, you can be all three people, plus your family can joint you as beneficiaries. The trust could also contain language as to what should be done if you were to become incapacitated. If you pass away, the trust can provide for your surviving spouse and children well into the future. It can also provide asset protection for your children, their children and multiple generations forward. A trust in the majority of cases, if properly funded, will keep your assets out of probate court and allow those assets to be distributed as you choose.