4 Important Documents to Put in Place for End-of-Life Planning
People from all walks of life can benefit from end-of-life planning. Preparing documents now that enable your family to carry out your wishes and distribute any assets, which provides peace of mind for all involved. You’ll be glad that you had the forethought to create a plan.
Gathering key information before estate planning will ensure you have all the necessary materials on hand to create your document checklist. This could include vehicle titles, birth certificates, marriage certificates, property titles and deeds, and legal or insurance contacts.
Here are 4 documents to put in place before you die:
- Execute a last will and testament
A will is a document listing any heirs to your belongings, property and other assets when you die. Without a will, you are leaving your estate up to your state’s succession laws, which apply when someone dies without a will. In other words, if you don’t have a will, the state will make one for you and you can’t assume how the state will make decisions on your behalf. When you create a will, you can name an executor. This is a person you trust to handle your estate. In your will you can also name a legal guardian for any minor children or leave instructions for the care of your pets.
- Power of Attorney
There are several kinds of Power of Attorneys. A healthcare power of attorney (POA) document appoints someone to make your medical choices for you if you’re unable to do so. Choosing someone you trust is key as they could be making difficult medical decisions in situations where you’re terminally ill. A health care POA works in tandem with a living will so that your wishes regarding medical treatment are followed. This POA is different from a financial power of attorney where you name someone to make your financial decisions.
- A living will or advance directive
While a regular will comes into effect after you’ve passed away, a living will helps you if you become incapacitated. This will also enable you to choose your end-of-life healthcare wishes now for if you become terminally ill or in a vegetative state. This type of will generally addresses medical choices like feeding tubes, breathing tubes, and other life-sustaining medical procedures.
- HIPAA Release
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a law that states medical records must be kept confidential. For certain family members to have access to your medical records, you need to complete a HIPAA Release document. With this document, your medical provider can discuss your medical situation with those listed in it.
With planning these documents, it’s also important to update your beneficiaries as well that could be tied to life insurance, pensions, retirement accounts or investments. We understand that estate planning can be complicated, and we highly recommend talking with an estate planning attorney to discuss end-of-life planning and prepare any necessary documents.
When your list is complete, the next part of pre-planning is to make final funeral arrangements and talk with your loved ones. Formalizing the documents of your estate offers great peace of mind to you and your family but talking with your loved ones about your wishes is just as important. If you have further questions about estate planning, please contact us to help answer your questions and provide resources.