The Last Will and Testament is by far the most well-known instrument in the estate plan. A Will allows a person to control what happens to their assets after they pass away. If one should die without a Will, you would be considered to have died “intestate.” This means that your assets will pass to your heirs based on the intestate succession laws of North Carolina.
A trust is a legal entity created to control how, when, and to whom your assets will be distributed. There are many different types of trusts that can be created to meet a wide range of goals.
Health Care Documents
There are three key healthcare documents that should be part of your estate plan:
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- Living Will (also called an Advance Directive for a Natural Death)
- HIPPA Authorization
These documents inform your loved ones, family, and healthcare professionals your wishes relating to your healthcare. The Healthcare Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so. The Living Will allows you to express your desire for artificial means to prolong your life in the event you are in a terminal state. The HIPPA Authorization allows someone you choose to have access to your medical records in case the records need to be shared with other healthcare professionals. Not having healthcare documents created before a critical time can often lead to the need for an appointment of a guardian through the Court.
A properly created Durable Power of Attorney is a document that grants certain financial powers to another person called your “Agent”. This type of document can be broadly drafted to include many powers, or can be very narrowly focused to only allow the Agent to perform limited tasks, such as close on a piece of real property, etc. The Durable Power of Attorney is an instrument that is often needed in during a critical time of your life. Not having a Power of Attorney during a critical time can also lead to the need for an appointment of a guardian.
If you would like to learn more about estate planning terms and concepts, read our blog post on the 13 Estate Planning Terms You Should Know.