Many people think you have to be rich to need an estate plan. Ask any estate planning attorney in Palm Beach Gardens, however, and they will tell you this is simply not true and that every adult should have one. Estate plans provide a road map for loved ones in the event ofyour incapacity or death. Without one, your wishes – including who you want to make decisions for you if you are ever unable to do so – may not be followed.
Defining What an Estate Plan Actually Is
The first step in understanding why everyone needs an estate plan is to define what an estate plan actually is. An estate plan details important topics like who will make decisions for you if you become incapacitated, as well as what will happen to your assets after you die.
Four common components of an estate plan include:
- Health care power of attorney
- General durable power of attorney
- HIPAA authorization
- A will or revocable living trust
Each of these documents serves a different purpose, and is essential for peace of mind in the present. Each is also essential in ensuring your wishes are followed in the future. A Palm Beach Gardens estate planning attorney can assist in drafting these documents for you.
Health Care Power of Attorney
A heath care power of attorney gives a person of your choosing the authority to make health care decisions for you, if you are ever in a position when you cannotmake themyourself. The person you appoint will make decisions regarding:
- Ongoing life support
- The types of treatment you receive or refuse
- End of life care
Without a health care power of attorney, you will have no control over who the court designates as the person who will make these decisions for you.
General Durable Power of Attorney
A general durable power of attorney gives a person of your choosing the ability to make financial decisions on your behalf, if you are no longer able to do so. For example, by using the general durable power of attorney, the person you choose can sell some of your assets to pay for financial responsibilitieslike your long-term health care. Without a general durable power of attorney, the courtswill decide who will make these types of decisions for you.
HIPAA authorization is important because HIPAA laws prevent medical professionals from sharing your personal medical information without prior authorization. By signing a HIPAA authorization, medical personnel will be able to share your medical information with a specified person of your choosing.
A Will or Revocable Living Trust
Both wills and revocable living trusts distribute assets upon your death. Both can be used to designate guardians for minor children as well. While a will is better than nothing, in many circumstances, a revocable living trust is preferable since it eliminates the expense and time involved in probating a will. Additionally, a revocable living trust allows your family to keep the nature and extent of your assets private. A will is a public document filed with the courts.
Do You Have an Estate Plan?
If you don’t have an estate plan yet, now is the time to start thinking about one. In just a few hours, an estate planning attorney in Palm Beach Gardens can draft the documents you need to make sure your wishes are known and carried out.