By Myka Landry
Last month’s article/blog discussed the five documents that I believe everyone should have in their estate plan. They include a will or trust, financial and medical powers of attorney, a living will, and medical information (HIPAA) release form.
Today, I want to offer some additional information to make sure that your wishes are carried out should you become incapacitated or die.
Once created, the originals of these five key documents should be kept in a safe place, such as a fireproof safe or safety deposit box. If kept in a safety deposit box, make sure someone has permission to access the box in the event you cannot.
Unsigned copies of these documents can be kept in a place that is readily accessible for review and discussion. The location of these documents should be shared with key family members and friends.
Those named in the powers of attorney documents should know where they can access signed copies of the documents.They should also know where the originals are located in case they need access to them.
Signed copies of the medical power of attorney, living will and HIPAA form should be given to your physicians and other health-care providers.
The people you choose to fulfill the roles of agent under your powers of attorney should be chosen very carefully. They should be people that you trust and who are able to handle the responsibility of making these decisions for you. Your selections should not be made lightly or because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings by not appointing them.
Financial and medical powers of attorney should have a successor, or back-up agent, named in the event the first named agent is unable to act. Wills and/or trusts should also have a back-up personal representative and/or trustee.
Make sure you discuss your wishes with the people you have chosen so that they will be in a good position to know what YOURdecision would be if you could make it yourself. Remember, that is the whole reason for creating an estate plan – to make sure decisions are made so that your wishes are met in the event of incapacity or death.
This is a general outline for estate planning purposes. It does not constitute specific legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. It is best to consult with a qualified estate planning attorney who can help you with your specific situation.