Care Planning Documents
For later life planning, a number of legal items are recommended to put into place in advance of needing care. We have compiled this partial list of available free online templates for things that are commonly used in the process of old age planning. For many legal items, it will be necessary to make sure that you use state specific templates. Click on the links below for a list of the state templates.
Power of Attorney
Durable Power of Attorney for Asset Management, often referred to as simply a Power of Attorney, allows one to appoint another person (Agent) to act for you in financial and other matters. It cannot be used to make health care decisions. Powers of Attorney can be drafted for certain specific transactions or more general matters. They can be immediately effective or be triggered upon a certain event, for example lack of competency. If triggered by lack of competency, usually a Doctor’s opinion is needs to attest to one’s lack of ability before they become effective.
An Agent is only able to manage assets in a person’s sole name. Assets in a trust are not affected.
The Agent under Powers of Attorney can only act while the person (Principal) is alive; after death the Durable Power is void.
Will or Advanced Directive for Health Care
Living Will is also known as Advanced Health Care Directive. A Living Will gives you the opportunity to give instructions on one’s health care and specify what medical procedures one wishes to forgo in the case of a terminal illness. You can always change your mind; you have the final word. But if you are unable to speak for yourself, a living Will expresses your wishes.
Because of the privacy of health care records enacted in recent health care laws, Living Will also appoints an individual (Agent) who is designated to receive your health care information and to make health care decisions for you if you are incapable or if you want someone to make health care decisions ever though you are capable. It also lets you express your intent to donate you bodily organs and tissues at your death.
Living Wills give the Agent of a terminally ill patient the confidence that they are abiding with the patient’s wishes and avoid the agonizing indecision of contemplating what was wanted.
A Will is a document that controls the disposition of property that is in a person’s sole name at death. It does not control life insurance, retirement benefits, trust assets or jointly owned property. Life insurance and retirement benefits pass in accordance with a beneficiary designation. Unless specifically indicated otherwise, jointly owned property passes to the remaining joint owner(s) on a person’s death. Property titled in a trust passes in accordance with the terms of the trust.
In order to be a valid will a person must have basic competency: be aware of what you are signing, and be aware of the natural recipients of one’s bounty.
A will appoints an executor to administer the estate, pay your finals bills, and to distribute the assets. Careful attention should be paid to the choice of an executor. He/she should have some financial experience, be impartial, honest and have some administrative skills.
Upon a person’s death, the Will must be submitted to the local court (Probate Court) where the decedent resides to oversee the administration, ensure that the creditors are protected and distribute the assets in accordance with the terms of the Will. Probate Courts vary in involvement and complexity from state to state.
Only those assets that are titled in the Trust are affected. One purpose of the trust is to avoid the publicity and delays of the Probate procedure associated with a Will. You do not have to submit the Trust to Probate Court on a person’s death.
Similar to the executor of a will, the trust appoints a trustee to oversee the administration of paying a decedent’s last bills and distributing the assets in accordance with the terms. Often used to withhold distributions for minors until they reach maturity, they are also used for complex tax reasons.