Many of us today are taking care of our elderly parents and more often than not we are not sure which legal documents are necessary to assist them medically, financially or even at their death regarding the distribution of their estate. Below is a list of four (4) legal documents that can help your parents in a medical or financial emergency and, at their deaths, ease the distribution of their estate.
1. Durable Health Care Directive and HIPAA release
This document is “durable” in that the person to whom it is given can continue to make health care decisions for you even if you are disabled and unable to make those decisions for yourself. The Authorization to Disclose Protected Health Care Information under HIPAA Form is an important form that authorizes the person(s) you designate to discuss your health status with your doctors and other health care professionals.
2. Durable Property Power of Attorney
This important document allows you to name agents to look after personal and real property on your behalf if you are disabled and unable to make decisions on your own.
3. A Revocable Living Trust
The Trust is the most important document in your Estate Plan. Below are some but not all of the things a Revocable Living Trust is designed to accomplish:
- Avoid probate for all assets transferred to the Trust.
- Allow the Trustee to manage and have total control over the assets of the Trust during your life.
- Conveniently allow you, for any reason, to delegate the day-to-day operation of your Trust.
- Protect against conservatorship proceedings if you become incapacitated.
- Create a prompt, flexible and efficient method to distribute your assets after death.
- Reduce the risk of a will contest and expensive court challenges to your Estate Plan.
- Avoid or substantially reduce death taxes, depending on the size of your estate.
- Protect the details of your personal Estate Plan from being open to the public.
4. Pour-Over Will
Upon your death, your Pour-Over Will leaves any property to your Living Trust that you did not put into the Trust before your death. It functions as a safety net to make sure property you neglected to place in your Trust can ultimately be managed by your Trustees, pursuant to your instructions. If you have minor children, your Pour-Over Will names the individuals to serve as guardians of your minor children. If you diligently put all of your assets into your Living Trust, the duties of your Personal Representative appointed under your Pour-Over Will should be reduced to a minimum or eliminated entirely.
The sooner you begin talking and planning, the easier it will likely be on everyone involved. Helping is much more difficult after a crisis, so start talking while you or your parents are still healthy and active. Contact our office at (650) 463-1550 to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our highly qualified estate planning attorneys to see how we can assist you or your parents with their estate planning needs. We also encourage you to visit our website at www.falkandcornell.com where we have provided information about our attorneys, staff, the services we provide and general information regarding our office.