Putting Your Affairs in Order
I hear it all the time – “Make sure you have your estate plan in place.”
Why do people say that you need an “estate plan,” when it’s really your family (not your estate) that’s the most important thing in your life? Wouldn’t it make more sense to do a total “Family Protection Plan” – a plan that protects you, your family and your assets? A plan that privatizes your life, keeping both the government and the courts out of it. A plan that allows you to make decisions both during your life and for after your death. A plan that can even allow you to build in protections against lawsuits, creditors, bankruptcy and divorce.
At Haiman Hogue, total family protection is exactly what we do. Our estate planning attorneys help our clients put together the documents they need to protect themselves, their families and their assets. There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all estate planning. Every estate plan is as unique as the families we serve. And we do it all with care, compassion, and the love of God.
Essential Estate Planning Tools
What you need for total family protection.
1. Power of Attorney – this allows you to appoint a person whom you trust to manage your financial affairs (pay bills, collect paychecks, manage bank accounts, manage investments, deal with Social Security, handle business matters, etc.) if you become incapacitated or unable to handle your own estate planning.
2. Medical Power of Attorney – this allows you to appoint a person whom you trust to make healthcare and medical treatment decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make these decisions because of physical or mental impairment. This might include medications, tests, nourishment and hydration, as well as decisions regarding surgery, doctors, hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.
3. Directive to Physicians– also known as the Advance Medical Directive or Living Will. This allows you to instruct your physician not to use artificial methods to extend the natural process of dying. It describes the treatments you would want if you were terminally ill or permanently unconscious. It could be medical treatments that will help you live longer. You can use an advance directive form to tell your doctor that you don’t want to be resuscitated.
4. HIPAA Authorization Form – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was put in place to help ensure the privacy and ease of access of your medical records. This form allows you to designate with whom healthcare providers may share your specific health information.
5. Declaration of Guardian in Case of Future Incapacitation – this allows you to tell the court whom you want to serve as your guardian if there is ever a guardianship proceeding for you. A guardianship proceeding might become necessary if you become incapacitated to the point that you cannot take care of yourself or your financial affairs. It also lets you to tell the court whom you don’t want your guardian to be – allowing you to disqualify family troublemakers or people who are unable to serve.
6. Appointment of Agent to Control the Disposition of Remains – this allows you to appoint a person or persons whom you trust to carry out your cremation, burial and funeral wishes.
7. Anatomical Gift Form – this allows you to donate your organs and/or tissue after death for the purpose of transplantation, research, or other medical reasons. It also allows you to donate your entire body for medical or forensic studies and research. You can also designate whether or not you will allow an autopsy to be performed.
8. Last Will & Testament – If you don’t do a Will, the government has one in place for you. It’s the difference between what the government says will happen to your assets upon your death or what you want to happen to your assets upon your death. The primary purpose of your last will and testament is to distribute any property you own in the event of your death. It outlines what to do with your assets (money, home, cars, belongings, investments, valuables, etc.), whether you want to leave them to another person, a group, or donate them to charity. It also allows you to say what happens to other things you are responsible for, such as custody of dependents (minor children or adults for whom you are the legal guardian).
9. Revocable Living Trust – Not just for the wealthy anymore. This allows you to transfer your assets into a structure that holds legal title of your assets during your life but allows you to use them as you wish and then securely transfer them upon your death. While you are alive and well, you have complete control of the trust, so you can modify, amend, restate, or terminate it whenever you want. A properly drafted and funded trust will avoid probate upon your death and can even avoid guardianship during your life if you or your spouse become totally incapacitated. That’s because a trust never gets sick and never dies. It can also provide tax protections and asset protections, if needed. It is a very important part of a great “Family & Money Protection Plan,”
Please feel free to schedule a time to speak with one of our professionals at HAIMAN HOGUE, PLLC today: Book a Call