Foundational estate planning documents are those legal documents used in most estate plans before the addition of any advanced planning or business planning. For you convenience, here is a listing and brief description of foundational estate planning documents.
The medical power of attorney
The medical power of attorney provides for your incapacity by appointing a health care agent to make medical decisions for you should you be unable to make these decisions yourself.
The HIPAA release
The HIPAA release is used to meet the requirements of the federal privacy laws. It permits medical professionals to share information with your health care agents.
The organ donation form
The organ donation form authorizes your organs and tissues to be donated to save the lives of up to eight people.
The living will
The living will records your medical decision not to be kept alive artificially by machines. The living will is often called an “advanced directive” because you are giving direction in advance. Because you have made this decision while you have legal capacity, your health care agent cannot override it.
The revocable living trust
The revocable living trust also has provisions for your incapacity. While you are alive and well, you select trustees to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated and when you die. The directions for the distribution of your assets after your death are provided in the revocable living trust.
Your will is used to nominate your executor and guardians for your minor children. It also contains distribution provisions. If you have a revocable living trust, the only beneficiary of your will is your trust. If you do not have a trust, your beneficiaries are whoever you choose.
Your financial power of attorney
Your financial power of attorney is used to appoint an agent to act on your behalf if you are unable to act or if it is not convenient for you to act. Your agent handles all kinds of miscellaneous day to day business/financial decisions and has the power to sign your name.
If you have questions regarding these foundational estate planning documents, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.