There are four basic tools of estate planning. It is imperative to have these documents executed by the care recipient, while they are legally competent. The explanations that follow refer to the care receiver as the principal, that is, the one seeking these documents.
- Durable Power of Attorney: With this document an agent(s) is appointed to manage your financial affairs. This document will prevent the need for a court-appointed guardian to manage your affairs should you become cognitively incapacitated. There are different types of powers of attorney. It is important to speak with an Elder Law Attorney to see which one is best for you.
- Health Care Proxy and Living Wills: This document allows you to appoint someone you trust, for example, a family member or close friend, to make health care decisions for you should you become incapacitated. When appointing a health care agent, speak with them about the type of care you want at the end of life care such as artificial nutrition and hydration (tube feedings).
- Will: In this legal document you direct the affairs of your estate, including payment of debts, the distribution of assets, and estate management.
- Living Trust: This document enables a person to pass property after death to family, friends and others, but unlike a will, the property placed in a living trust avoids probate.