Last post, I discussed the first two of the “big five” estate planning documents that everyone should consider having. Here are the rest:
3. HIPAA Form– This form lets doctors disclose to one person, such as an adult son or daughter, otherwise confidential medical information about person, such as a parent. As a practical matter, it allows an adult child to be directly involved in the medical treatment of their parent, even if the parent is not yet disabled to the extent that he Health Care Proxy (discussed last time) needs to be invoked.
4. Will – Sets forth how you want your assets disposed of after your death. Avoids the confusion of what someone would want done with his or her assets after they die. It also allows you, not a judge, to decide who will be the legal guardian for your minor children. Finally, in some cases, it allows you to reduce or eliminate certain estate taxes that your family would otherwise have to pay on their inheritance.
5. Revocable Trust (in some cases—not always necessary). A revocable trust is something that you can put assets into and bypass probate (though not necessarily estate taxes) with respect to those assets. The assets would pass after death directly as specified in the trust. This can be useful, for example, for real estate located in a state where probate is very cumbersome, or for assets that the beneficiaries will need quick access to after death, as even a simple probate takes several weeks.
Our office can advise you with respect to the possible necessity to prepare some or all of these documents in your particular circumstances.