A Last Will and Testament
A Last Will and Testament is a written legal document wherein, an individual provides written instructions pertaining to their wishes of how they would like their property distributed upon their death. A Will designates individual(s) known as an “Executor” (a male) or an “Executrix” (a female) to oversee handling an individual’s estate and affairs. A Last Will and Testament can vary since the creation of one should reflect your needs and desires for the distribution of assets to one’s heirs. Each Will and full Estate Plan is unique and can be tailored to fit the individual needs of anyone who wishes to construct a plan with their attorney. A Trust can be created within a Will for purposes such as funding the education of grandchildren, establish a charitable Trust, establishing a timetable for the distribution of assets to your beneficiaries over a lengthy period of time and establishing conditions upon which assets are to be distributed. In short, there are no limits as to how one might distribute their property, and all of this can also be accomplished in a Living Trust as well.
Trusts are written legal documents wherein, an individual names a beneficiary who will inherit certain properties, such as real estate, upon your inability to take care of the property, or upon your death. A Trust allows an individual to still have rights to the properties specified, however, the properties are “held in trust” by another. Trusts are common vehicles used to reduce estate tax as well as to protect a property from being taken to cover the costs of a nursing home or medical expenses. Additionally, upon your death, a Trust keeps the property out of Probate Court proceedings which are public record. A Trust may be Revocable or Irrevocable meaning that the document can either be in place for a set period of time and then at any time can be revoked by the Trustee or irrevocable meaning that the Trust cannot be changed by the creator of the Trust. Medicaid trusts can be used to establish a plan for the care of the elderly while preserving assets for future generations.
Living Wills are written legal documents wherein an individual executes a written document outlining their desires of medical treatment, should they no longer be able to verbally express their wishes or give their consent. This document outlines your directions and the measures that you wish to be taken for you to sustain life. You appoint a person of your choice to direct them as to what you want done for you to sustain your life should there be health problems in the future. Hospitals call these documents “do not resuscitate orders” since it describes the actual process of what the patient would want done in order to keep them alive and mandates what they do not want to have to sustain life. It's important that the person who receives this power who you have designated for the future, should be someone whom you trust and believe will have the fortitude to carry out your wishes based on your Living Will.
A Healthcare Proxy is a legal written document which goes hand in hand with a Living Will. In this document you are designating an individual(s) whom you trust to make important healthcare decisions for you, should the time come where you cannot make these decisions for yourself. Such decisions you may assign your Proxy to preform include whether you wish to receive life support or if you choose to not be resuscitated, the Healthcare Proxy appoints a person who shall carry out your wishes as listed in the Living Will. It is very important that the person selected is someone who you trust and have the utmost faith in.
Power of Attorney
Power of Attorney is a written legal document wherein, you designate a trusted individual(s) to act on your behalf, should you no longer be able to make decisions for yourself. Decisions that can be granted in a Power of Attorney include all matters relating to your finances, any legal matters on your behalf or other private matters.
Further, a Power of Attorney is a very important document which permits you to assign someone who can step in for you and take care of any accounts, properties, assets or otherwise, that you might take care of yourself, except now you are unable to do so, because of a temporary condition. There are a multitude of roles a Power of Attorney can perform. Perhaps you are recovering from surgery in a hospital or you are on a trip out of town and something is going on at your home location and you need someone else to take care of it. You can also designate a Power of Attorney to buy and sell property on your behalf, allow them to convert stock, distribute any monies that you have in your account, and even allow them to pay your bills. Also, keep in mind that you can give a Power of Attorney to just do one thing. For example, you are out of town for 6 months. Your Power of Attorney can pay your monthly bills for you without any difficulty or buy a piece of property on your behalf. The “power” you can assign your designated person is very extensive and powerful. You can also limit the powers you assign to make is as narrow as you choose.