Planning for your future is a necessary step, though it can be difficult to think about the end of your life. While it isn't the most pleasant future event to plan for, it can be comforting to know that, when the time comes, you and your family will be prepared to handle this time the way you prefer. Getting started on your end-of-life plans can be a bit confusing, so here are 5 documents you should look into when making these plans.
1. DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
If you're incapacitated and unable to handle your affairs, durable power of attorney grants a trusted, designated person the power to make financial, business, and legal decisions on your behalf. They can pay bills for you, manage your finances, make business decisions on your behalf, and are given guardianship or conservatorship powers over you if you are no longer able to handle your needs. Because you can designate a trusted friend or family member to have this power before it's necessary, they will be able to act quickly when needed and avoid a costly and time-consuming legal process.
2. HEALTHCARE PROXY OR MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY
A standard power of attorney decree doesn't allow the designated person to make medical decisions, so it is important to also choose someone to handle these decisions. Who you appoint is up to you, and may be the same person as the person who holds power of attorney. Choosing a healthcare proxy or medical power of attorney allows the chosen individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you should become incapacitated, including your care, authorization to admit or discharge you from a hospital, review health records, and choose to continue or end life-sustaining medical procedures. It is important to discuss your decisions on your care with the person you choose before it becomes necessary, so they can act on your desires for care.
3. ADVANCED CARE DIRECTIVES
Having a conversation with your healthcare proxy about your choices for medical care in the event of your incapacitation is important, but it's also critical to have your directions in writing for. This document ensures that there is no question about what you would have wanted if you aren't able to have a say. Additionally, this document can guide your care providers and medical professionals to follow your directions in the event that there is a conflict with your family.
4. WILL OR LIVING TRUST
After you've passed away, it will be necessary for your family to handle your assets and belongings. A will or revocable living trust are two options that can make provisions for how your assets are to be handled after you pass away. Without one of these documents, it is up to the government to determine how your belongings will be distributed. Discuss which option is better for your needs with an estate planning attorney.
5. PLANS FOR MINOR CHILDREN OR PETS
Legal custody of minor children is an important decision for any parent or legal guardian to make. It is important to note that you can only nominate a guardian in a will, and a trust cannot be used to determine the custody of your children. Generally, the court will honor the nomination but simply naming your choice of guardian doesn't automatically appoint them to care for your child. The court will still need to approve the nomination.
Legally, you have fewer options when it comes to your pet's guardians after your death, but there are still steps you can take to provide for them after you've gone. The most important—and easiest—thing you can do for your pet is to list your expectations for your pet's care. Created a packet that contains their medical history, daily care needs, and your expectations for their medical care or end-of-life decisions. You should also discuss the proper way to leave financial support for your pet's care with your estate planning lawyer.
When it comes to preparing for your future, Inman & Tourgee will be there every step of the way. Our experienced Rhode Island probate attorneys are ready to help you prepare for whatever may come. We can also help you handle the issues you may be facing after the passing of a loved one. Our compassionate team is here to help, so don't hesitate to arrange your free consultation today.
Contact our team by calling (401) 823-9200 to begin.