ESTATE PLANNING, WILLS AND TRUSTS
1. What is a Living Will?
A Living Will allows a person to make a decision during their lifetime not to be kept alive on death delaying devices, in the event their condition is considered terminal. A Living Will is a personal decision made by an individual. Once the Living Will is signed and properly witnessed, copies of the document should be distributed to the person’s family physician and any other attending or treating physicians. By law, a physician or hospital is to keep this document with your medical records.
2. What is a Living Trust?
A Living Trust is an alternative to probate. This document places all of the assets that you own during your lifetime into a revocable trust. A living trust can be changed, amended, or terminated in whole or in part by the individual at any time, provided you are of sound mind. Under a living trust, you can be named as your own trustee for your own property. Upon your disability during your lifetime, you can name a successor trustee to manage your assets and pay your debts. Upon your death, you can name a successor trustee to insure that your assets are distributed as you so designate in your living trust.
3. Does everyone need a Living Trust?
No. There is no need to establish a living trust during your lifetime, if you do not have many assets or the total value of your estate is less than $100,000.00. If the only asset you own is a piece of real estate, a land trust for real estate can be drafted at a lower cost to you then a living trust.
4. What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney?
A Healthcare Power of Attorney is drafted and signed by you during your lifetime. You give power to an individual named in your Healthcare Power of Attorney to act on your behalf if you do not wish to be kept alive on life sustaining devices such as a food tube, or intravenous.
5. What is Durable Power of Attorney?
A Durable Power of Attorney is signed by you during your lifetime and gives power to an individual that you name to act on your behalf for financial purposes. It is effective only upon your being declared by a doctor to be incapable of managing your finances. It is important to have a Durable Power of Attorney especially if you are single, widowed or divorced so that someone can write checks on your checking account, take money out of your savings account or otherwise sell your assets to pay your bills and to obtain and pay for your medical care and the needs of your family.
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