Although no one enjoys planning for disability or death, formulating an estate plan is one of the most important decisions you can make to protect yourself and your loved ones. Everyone can benefit from planning for the future, whether it involves the distribution of assets, tax reduction planning, or the care of oneself and family members. Four Pillars Law Firm provides personal customized and comprehensive estate plans for our clients and their families. Most estate plans include the following basic legal documents:
- General Durable Power of Attorney – A document in which you designate one or more individuals to handle your finances if you are unable to do so, even after you become incapacitated. By executing such a document, you avoid the necessity of costly and lengthy guardianship proceedings before the court in order to determine who is best-suited for this responsibility. Even if the court were to appoint as guardian the individual you would have appointed, that individual is generally required to post bond and make periodic accountings to the court regarding how s/he is spending and investing every penny of your money.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney – A document in which you designate one or more individuals to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to communicate with your physician or other healthcare providers. By executing such a document, you clearly provide to your physician and healthcare providers who you want to make these decisions on your behalf.
- Living Will – A document in which you express your end of life decisions regarding whether you would like for life sustaining procedures and/or artificial nutrition and hydration feeding tubes to be maintained or discontinued if you are near the end of your life and no longer able to communicate these wishes yourself. By executing such a document, you communicate your end of life wishes while you are still able to do so and provide guidance to your attending physicians and the individual you appoint in your Healthcare Power of Attorney in making such decisions.
- HIPAA Release Authorization – A document in which you allow healthcare providers and agencies to disclose your healthcare information to your spouse, the individual you appoint under your General Durable Power of Attorney, and the individual you appoint under your Healthcare Power of Attorney. By executing such a document, the individuals you appoint to handle your financial and healthcare affairs may have access to your healthcare records so as to ensure healthcare bills are appropriately invoiced and paid and to make healthcare decisions on your behalf with the benefit of knowing your past medical history, regardless of the privacy your healthcare information is otherwise accorded under the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”).
- Last Will & Testament – A document in which you designate how your assets should be distributed and to whom upon your death, as well as appoint who shall serve as your Personal Representative (a/k/a/ Executor or Executrix) and administer your estate.
By taking the time to make these decisions and execute these documents now, you can ensure your assets are effectively managed during disability as well as upon your passing and you spare your loved ones from undergoing the expense, delay and frustration of determining who will and how to manage your affairs during such difficult times in your and their lives. Furthermore, effective estate planning ensures that everything you have worked so hard to accumulate during your life will be there to work for you during your life and pass effectively to your loved ones when you pass. Ultimately, estate planning, even basic estate planning, is all about establishing peace of mind, both for yourself as well as your loved ones.
Now that you have discovered how we may be able to help you with your own estate planning needs, please Contact Us with your particular inquiry and see if you qualify for a free initial consultation so that we may discuss your individual concerns and develop an estate plan that meets your needs.
If you would like to learn more about the services we offer, please visit our Advanced Estate Planning page to read about additional estate planning techniques, or visit another one of our practice areas by making the appropriate selection at the top of the page.