It’s not exactly what everyone wants to think about, but the reality is that we are only here temporarily. We only have a short amount of time here, and we’re very constantly encouraged to make the most of the time we have. However, one thing that often gets overlooked is what’s going to happen after we pass. Figuring out what you want to happen to your wealth and belongings after you die can seem like a complicated process to complete, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be.
There’s more to Estate Planning than just simply a will. 4 key documents can give you everything you need in planning for what happens after you pass.
When you first start thinking about Estate Planning, often the first thing that comes to is a will. While this is a key document that you need for Estate Planning, there are actually 4 documents in total that you will need.
1. Last Will and Testament
This is the first thing that comes to mind when discussing Estate Planning. A Last Will and Testament are essential to creating a good estate plan. The Last Will and Testament. This document allows you to select in which way you would like your property and other assets to be divided after your death. Your Last Will and Testament will also name who will care for and distribute your property, as well as name a Guardian to look after your children.
2. Power of Attorney
Essentially, a Power of Attorney is the document that appoints another person or organization to manage not only your legal affairs for you after you pass but your financial decisions as well. There are numerous different variations of this documents, including a General Power of Attorney, which gives broad powers to a person or organization to make decisions for you, a Health Care Power of Attorney, which grants your selected individual or organization the power to make medical decisions for you if you are unconscious or unable to make decisions on your own, or a Durable Power of Attorney, which will safeguard you against any issues you might have if you become mentally incompetent due to an accident or illness and already have a power of attorney filed.
3. Destination of a Health Care Surrogate (HCS)
Simply put, a Health Care Surrogate is an individual who will be appointed to make healthcare decisions for you in case you become unable to make them yourself. Things like medical and surgical treatments, hospitalization, organ donation, and life-prolonging interventions all fall up decisions that can be made by your Health Care Surrogate. It is important to select an individual before anything happens, because in the case of an accident where you will not be able to make decisions for yourself, then a healthcare surrogate can be selected for you. This is where a Health Care Surrogate and Medical Power of Attorney differ, the Medical Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone specifically to make decisions for you in case something happens, while a Health Care Surrogate is someone who will be appointed for you if you are unable to make those decisions yourself.
4. Living Will
A Living Will is a document that allows you clearly lay out your wishes for end-of-life medical care, it is used in case you are not able to communicate your decisions to medical professionals. Living Wills are used for cases of catastrophic injury, an example being whether or not if you would wish to continue living off life support in case the injury let you brain dead.