Life Docs

Your “life docs” are the non-will or living trust documents in your estate plan. They include:

Durable Power of Attorney – This document appoints someone to handle your financial affairs, either effective immediately or upon your disability or incapacitation, often referred to as a “springing” DPOA. Besides your primary agent (may also be referred to as your “attorney-in-fact”), you can also name one or more alternatives to serve as your fiduciary. Every person over the age of 18 should have a durable POA, even if it just names one or both parents. Without it, the parents will need to petition the courts to allow them to pay the bills and otherwise handle the financial affairs of a child who is injured or incapacitated. With it, a parent can sign checks, deal with the bank, and otherwise act on behalf of the child until such time as they recover and can go back to taking care of themselves. A DPOA can be general, meaning it applies to everything, or limited, with specific things that the agent it authorized to do. For example, if you were trying to sell your car but had to go out of town for awhile, you could use a limited POA to authorize someone else to sell your vehicle for you while you are gone.

If there are co-agents named, the document should specify whether they must act together or can act separately.

Health Care Power of Attorney – This document is may also be referred to as a proxy directive, health care proxy, health care surrogate, or durable power of attorney for health care. It appoints your primary (and two or more alternates) health care representative, who is the person your doctors will be asking the tough questions regarding your care when you are unable to answer for yourself. It is important that you discuss your decisions with your health care representative(s) and provide them with copies of this document so they are not surprised to be informed that they have to make life and death decisions on your behalf. You should also make sure that they do not have any religious beliefs that might prevent them from carrying out your wishes.

Advance Directive for Health Care – This document is often called a “living will” or instruction directive, and it provides instructions to your loved ones and your medical team regarding your end of life care. It is designed to be submitted to your health care providers by your health care representative (who you appoint using a Health Care Power of Attorney) once you have started the dying process, are in a persistent vegetative state, irreversible coma, or similar condition. Yes, it is all very depressing stuff to think about, but putting forth your wishes in writing may save your loved ones an enormous amount of emotional pain. Avoid having the courts involved in your end-of-life decisions, as they (and Congress and the President) were in the case of Terri Schiavo. A comprehensive living will can provide a lot of guidance, including information on what organs/body parts you want to donate, reference to your religious beliefs, when to withhold fluids, nutrition, and CPR, and, basically, when to pull your plug.

Funeral or Cremation Instructions – More fun things for you to ponder–Buried or cremated? Where? Have you picked out a burial plot? Paid for it? Want your ashes spread certain places or given to certain people? Pallbearers? Music to be played? Verses read by certain people? Make life easier for your loved ones after yours has ended by leaving them a document with all the information you consider to be relevant and important.

Health Care Power of Attorney

What is a healthcare power of attorney?

A healthcare power of attorney is a legal document that lets you choose an individual or individuals to advocate for your health and medical treatments in the event that you are not able to communicate those decisions directly. A healthcare power of attorney and a living will will become important when you are unable to make decisions or communicate your intentions about any medical treatments that you may need. Selecting a healthcare power of attorney is an important decision that you will need to make and you will want to think carefully about who can best handle the responsibilities of being appointed a healthcare power of attorney. Ultimately, a healthcare power of attorney can protect and honor your wishes in case a hospital or medical facility does not want to honor your living will.

What are the benefits of a healthcare power of attorney?

The benefits of having a healthcare power of attorney is the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your wishes will be carried out regarding any healthcare or medical decisions that may need to be made on your behalf. Your wishes will be honored even when you are not able to verbally or physically do it yourself. Another benefit of having a healthcare power of attorney is this helps to eliminate the controversy between loved ones with regards to your healthcare. Ultimately, having a healthcare power of attorney is one of best legal instruments you can do for you and your family.

Living Trust

What is a living trust?

A living trust is considered to be a type of document where a trustee holds the legal possession of an asset that belongs to another person, a beneficiary, that you can create in your lifetime. A living trust will help you spell out what your desires are in regards to your assets, your heirs, and dependents. Having a living trust document in place will help you to avoid probate, reduce your estate taxes, and set-up long term property management. A living trust is best suited for individuals who have a substantial amount of assets, a blended family, property in other states and closely held financial interests. A living trust can be a very effective tool for individuals who are not married, assuming those individuals desires cannot be carried out through other means of beneficiary designations.

What are the benefits of a living trust?

There are some benefits that you will want to consider when you are trying to decide if a living trust is right for you and your family. One benefit of having a living trust in place is it can help you to avoid probate, which this means that your assets can distributed and divided up between your family and loved ones a lot faster. A living trust can save your estate money when you die since the distribution of assets will not even be going through the probate process. A living trust will hold up better in court over a living will if someone decides to come forward and contest your living trust. Contact estate planning associates to find out how they can help you find the best options between a living trust or a living will for you and your family.

Living Will

What is a living will?

A living will is a legal document in which you can state which life-prolonging and saving measures you do or do not want. A living will allows you to express your desires or wants in writing to your doctors or essential medical providers in case you are not able to communicate to them directly. A living will allows you to plan on whether or not you will want to be on life support machines and when to terminate that care in the event of an illness or injury. A living will document is usually combined with a health care power of attorney, which in turn allows you to name someone to carry out your health care decisions you have made in the event that you become incapacitated. Together a living will and a health care power of attorney make up an advanced health care directive.

What are the benefits of a living will?

There are a few benefits of a living will that you will want to learn about to help you decide what is best for you and your loved ones. Having a living will will help to ease the strain for a loved one that will be entrusted to carry out these type of decisions for you. One benefit of having a living will in place is all medical professionals will know how to care for you if you become incapacitated. A living will helps to make it easier for the doctors to recommend the right kind of medical treatment according to the patient’s wishes and hopefully will reduce any conflicts amongst your loved ones who might not agree on the type of care that should be given. Another benefit of having a living will in place, is it can give you and your family a little peace of mind knowing that a living will was put in place. It is never easy to talk about these type of unplanned crises, however, it is better to know that everything has been discussed and decided by you, before you are incapacitated. Finally, the one last benefit of having a living will in place, is that you have maintained a sense of control in your life and you didn’t leave these types of decisions unattended to. A living will allows you to direct your own care up to the final moments and still be able to retain your independence.

Pet Trust

What is a pet trust?

A pet trust is considered to be a legal plan where it is known how you want your pets taken care of in the event of your death. The main reason why a pet trust is so important is that most of us consider our pets family members and their continued care after we pass away is very important to us. A pet trust fund will allow you to determine what percentage of your money will need to put away for the care of your pets. A trustee is designated to ensure that the caregiver of your pet is doing his or her duties correctly. When you pass away The amount that you decide to place in the trust cannot be excessive but should be enough for the life of the pet. Most states have adopted certain laws in regards to pet trusts. What are the benefits of a pet trust?

There is really only one main benefit of a pet trust and it is the peace of mind knowing that your pet(s) will be taken care, when you die, according to your wishes. Adding a pet trust to your will creates a legal responsibility for someone to take care of your pet. Having a pet trust provides for the accountability of the money that you set aside for your pet. A pet trust agreement is available in most states. Contact Estate Planning Associates to find out what pet trust is right for you and your estate planning needs.


What is probate?

Probate is the legal process where a court manages the distribution of your assets that are left when you die. The probate process is the general administering of your will or your estate if you die intestate or without a will. The probate court will appoint an executor or executrix that was named in your will or appoint an administrator if there is no will to handle the collection of assets, pay any outstanding liabilities, and then distribute any assets that remain to your beneficiaries that have been named in your will. There are usually a large amount of legal and tax implications within the probate process, so you will want to speak with a probate attorney, an estate planner and or a financial planner to help minimize the costs for your family and loved ones.

What are the benefits to avoiding probate?

There are some benefits to avoiding probate that you should look at. One big benefit of avoiding probate is the cost. Another benefit to avoiding probate is it can be a lengthy process. Probate fees are usually costly to your estate especially if you own property in other states. If that is the case, then you may likely have probate proceedings in multiple states. Avoiding probate altogether can speed up the process of settling your estate. One other benefit of probate is your heirs and your beneficiaries are protected by the courts. Creditor’s claims can be made against your estate for a limited time, and all questions and disputes within your estate are usually settled with the courts. Contact an Estate Planning Associates to find out how they can help you to avoid probate.

Revocable Trust

What is a revocable trust?

A revocable trust is a type of trust that is attached to your estate plan where it allows you to have maximum control and flexibility of the assets in the trust. A revocable trust agreement allows you to adjust the provisions of your trust while you are alive, and helps you to maintain the security of knowing that your estate and trust will be transferred to your loved ones, how, and when you want it distributed upon your death. A revocable trust is a popular choice for estate planning because of the flexibility that this type of trust brings. The main purpose of a revocable trust is the "Probate avoidance" factor. A revocable trust can be modified, amended, or terminated during your lifetime as long as you maintain your mental capacity and are still of sound mind. Overall, a revocable trust will allow you to still maintain control over your trust property and the beneficiaries of your trust. What are the benefits to a revocable trust?

There are a few revocable trust benefits that you will want to consider with regards to a revocable trust. A revocable trust will help to ensure that your property is going to be properly managed in case you become mentally or physically unable to manage your own affairs. A revocable trust helps you to avoid the costly process of probate. Avoiding probate is significant when it comes to you owning real estate in more than one state. If you own real estate in more than one state,if your property is not in a revocable trust you may have multiple probates in different states which can turn out to be a very expensive process. One final benefit of a revocable trust is that it can provide a way to ensure the continued management and preservation of your assets. A revocable trust also sets forth the rules of dispositive provisions of your estate. Contact Estate Planning Associates to discuss the benefits of a revocable trust.


What is a will?

A Will (Last Will and Testament) is considered to be a legal document that an individual has drafted that dictates how they want their estate to be managed after their death. A Will is a written document which allows you to name guardians for your dependent children. A Will will allow you to name the executor (male) or executrix (female), that will be in charge of all of your estates needs. Without a valid Will in place, the courts can and will decide for you what happens to your wealth and who is ultimately responsible for your dependents. When you decide on an executor or executrix, you should pick one that you completely trust with your afterlife affairs. You will also need to let this person know exactly how you want your estate distributed. Filing your tax returns, and taking care of any debts that are owed to creditors are also tasks that your representatives will be responsible for.

>What are the benefits to a will?

Having a Will in place when you die is important. One benefit of having a Will in place is it means an individual(s) and not the State decides how your estate will be distributed. A Will can provide peace of mind for both you and your family and friends because you are ensuring that the people you love are provided for when you are gone. A Will can allow you to leave items of sentimental value to whomever you choose. Depending on the value of your estate, there may be some other planning that along with your Will may be necessary to prevent your estate from being attacked or contested. Some other benefits of having a Will in place is you may be able appoint guardians for your dependents and pets, and you can also decide who is going to administer your affairs in regards to your Will. You can also specify your wishes for your funeral as part of your "final disposition document. These are just a few considerations when deciding to ensure a Will is in place when you die. You can contact Estate Planning Associates to find out what particular benefits may be best for you and your loved ones.

Elder Care Planning

What is elder care planning?

Elder care planning is a type of life planning where you can make plans for the care that you want in the future when you may have a serious illness or can no longer make these types of decisions on your own. Elder care planning services will involve learning about your illness and understanding what choices you may have for your treatments and care. Elder care planning can include the protection of your family wealth, assessing if there is going to be need for long term care for at home or at facility that is equipped for certain types of needs, identifying all of the potential sources of payment for elder care, and the support with your overall health and well-being. Ultimately, elder care planning services can deal with all of aspects of your health care, legal care, and financial matters of needed elder care.

What are the benefits of elder care planning?

The benefits of elder care planning are the relief about not having to worry about paying for long term care and the peace of mind of knowing that you or your loved ones are going to be provided and taken care of with the right quality of care. Elder care planning will give the reassurance you or your loved one will have the best possible quality of life now and until the end of life.