08 Nov The Legal Document Name Game: Which does What?
A solid estate plan contains four legal documents: a living will, last will and testament, durable power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney. While several of these documents have similar names, they serve different purposes. Read on to discover what each document does and how it works to protect your family.
1. Living Will
A living will is an estate planning document used to plan for medical emergencies or terminal illness. In this document, you state whether or not you would like life-sustaining measures to be taken on your behalf. Your living will expresses your wishes. However, it doesn’t give anyone the authority to speak for you, which is why you also need a health care power of attorney document, which is discussed later in this blog.
2. Last Will and Testament
Though it has a similar name, a last will and testament is different from a living will because it becomes effective after death. A last will and testament is a customized document. It lists instructions for how you’d like your assets distributed among your heirs. You also appoint a personal representative, otherwise known as an executor, in this document. The executor is responsible for distributing your assets. If you have children who are minors, a guardian is appointed here as well. Your personal representative must file your last will and testament in probate court for it to be effective.
3. Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a document that enables you to name another person to act on your behalf financially if you become incapacitated. It’s best to choose someone you trust as your durable power of attorney. This is because your appointed agent is usually able to sell, invest, and spend your assets. A durable power of attorney terminates upon your death.
4. Healthcare Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney for healthcare document gives an appointed individual the ability to make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to make the decisions yourself. Along with a living will, this estate planning document is very important. This is because if you have not made your healthcare wishes well known, conflict can arise among family members who each think they know what you would’ve wanted in the event of becoming incapacitated.
How Boyum Law Can Help You
Contact Boyum Law using this link to learn how our team can help you create a solid estate plan of your own.