Four Legal Documents Everyone Needs During a Health Crisis
Most people are interested in how to setup an estate plan to ensure that their loved ones are taken care of during this time of the COVID 19 virus as it affects peoples lives. It is important that several documents are in place for the possible event that you are incapacitated and can no longer make decisions on your own behalf.
The Four Legal Documents You Need:
- Last Will and Testament. The Will describes how you want your assets distributed on your death, and where those assets are located. Oftentimes, a simple Trust is set up in the Will, called a Testamentary Trust, and guardians for your minor children can be appointed as well. Lastly, an Executor, the person appointed to administer your estate and distribute the assets, is appointed.
- Either a Revocable or Irrevocable Trust can be setup for your estate. Each of these documents are somewhat similar to a Will, in that the Trust describes how you want your assets to be distributed and the appointment of a Trustee. However, a Trust avoids probate and is a private entity in itself. Many times, a Spendthrift provision is included in the Trust to provide protection from any potential creditors.
- General Durable Power of Attorney. A General Power of Attorney grants certain enumerated powers to your personal representative (your “Agent”) in the event of your incapacity. These powers tend to focus on strictly the financial aspects, namely transacting business on your behalf, including managing finances and paying bills.
- Advanced Medical Directive. The Advanced Medical Directive is a merger of the Medical Power of Attorney and the Living Will. This document grants certain enumerated powers to your personal representative (your “Agent”) in the event of your incapacity and is strictly for making health care decisions on your behalf. You can leave detailed instructions to your agent explaining the type of care that you want administered to you during this time.
These documents are typically not to be taken as a singular document, rather they are a part of a comprehensive estate plan that is tailored to your specific needs. Those needs could be just for your immediate family, or for someone who will need continuing support even after your passing.
Oftentimes there is the temptation to go to online legal services that provide you with a number of forms to fill out and sign. Please resist that temptation because an estate plan is something that needs to be carefully crafted by an experienced attorney. A simple mistake of writing in one word, or placing a comma in the wrong location can mean that your assets do not go to the people that you intended to receive the assets, and can result in costly litigation.
Please do not wait. Call our office today at 540-443-9255, or email at brian.themackl[email protected] to discuss your estate planning needs with an experienced estate planning attorney.