We can’t predict tragedy, but we can prepare for unforeseen events in life. At any moment, we can find ourselves in terrible situations, forced to make life and death decisions for our loved ones. Or worse, not being allowed to make those decisions because we haven’t prepared end-of-life documents. Anyone over 18 years old should have an established estate plan to answer the difficult questions your family will be faced with in an emergency. But, in the event of incapacity, we all need answers to many important questions that don’t come up in conversations. The more we discuss estate planning, the more it will continue to be demystified. There are misconceptions about estate planning, with many people assuming you need to be older or wealthy or facing an end-of-life event. The truth is all adults need a basics estate plan.
4 Estate Planning Tools You Need Before a Hospital Visit
A hospital visit may seem like an ordinary nonevent, but you could go into the hospital and never leave. Sadly, too many people go into the hospital for routine reasons and never come home. It’s important to ensure your affairs are in order before you undergo any medical procedure.
Here are the four most important documents to complete before going to the hospital for medical care:
Healthcare Power of Attorney: A healthcare power of attorney appoints a trusted agent to serve as the point person for medical matters for a named person in the document. A healthcare power of attorney allows the person given agency to take over in the event of incapacity of the person they represent. An important support document to your healthcare power of attorney is a HIPPA authorization form, which ensures those you choose are given access to your medical information. Medical personnel typically give information to immediate family, but they are cautious, so this additional document can ensure you control who has access to your medical information.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney: If you become incapacitated after a medical procedure or an accident, the world continues to move forward. What happens with your money and bills and other financial obligations while you’re unable to handle your money? With a durable financial power of attorney, you can select a proxy, or trusted agent, to act on your behalf if you’re incapacitated to spend money on the things that need to be handled while you are unavailable to do so. Without this document, your family would be forced to go to court to have a judge help them take charge of your interests. Legal action takes time and costs money you could avoid spending if you prepared in advance. Turning over your financial rights may seem like an enormous amount of power to give to another person, and it can be. So, it’s important to choose someone you can trust. Your attorney can also help you put limits in place to direct the actions of your trusted agent.
Will: A will provides instructions for the allocation of your possessions and assets, and this legal document is triggered once you die. A will can also provide instructions and funds to cover your funeral and burial expenses. If you have minor children, a will gives those in your family directions for their care. Dying without a will means your estate is subject to Minnesota intestacy laws. If you have children from another marriage or have loved ones you’d like to leave possessions or assets to, outlining your preferences in a will is vitally important.
Revocable Living Trust: A trust and a will offer similar protections and asset management, but where a will is a basic estate planning document, a trust has more robust planning options. A will upon your death becomes a historical document, but a living trust continues to serve your interests. While you may pass on, your living trust continues to act on your behalf. It will continue to manage your assets according to your pre-established terms. Furthermore, your wishes are executed without court involvement. Your trust must be funded to prevent beneficiaries from needing to go through the probate process. The probate process can be time-consuming and costly, so if you can avoid it by creating a living trust, it could be what’s best for your estate.
Estate Planning with Guttman Law
At Guttman Law, we take a compassionate approach to estate planning because we know these topics can be difficult for families and loved ones to discuss. The goal of our team is to give you and your family the peace of mind that comes from knowing your affairs are in order. If you need help creating an estate plan or updating an existing one, call our office at (612) 324-4055 to schedule a consultation.