Estate planning is the broad name given to a series of documents that will allow you to decide how matters will be handled if you are no longer able to make your own decisions while you are alive and who will be in charge of handling your affairs after you pass away. Because the particular documents that will make up an estate plan can vary greatly by individual and by family, Attorney Harvey listens to your needs and desires before recommending any course of action. No matter what other documents are suggested, each estate plan will have at least a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy. Your durable power of attorney, also called your attorney-in-fact, is the person you name to be in charge of your financial and legal decisions while you are alive but no longer able to make or communicate your own decisions. The person that you name to make your personal and medical decisions is called your health care proxy.
Depending on your circumstances, you may also want to establish one or more trusts. A trust is a separate entity that can hold your property, including real property as well as funds. The person that you place in charge of the trust is called the Trustee. You can determine how the Trustee can spend the trust’s funds and who can benefit from the Trust. You can serve as Trustee of a trust while you are alive and determine who will take over once you are no longer able to serve in that role.
The final piece of an estate plan is the Will, which is the document that directs who will be in charge of handling your affairs and how your assets will be distributed after you pass away. Your personal representative, the person who will handle your affairs after your death, will gather your assets, pay any debts and distribute your assets as you wish.