There are nine different types of Wills. They differ from each other, and truth be told, any one isn’t superior to another. The best Will depends on your current situation and any future goals. They include:
- Living Will
- Testamentary Trust Will
- Pour-Over Will
- Simple Will
- Joint Will
- Deathbed Will
- Online Will
- Holographic Will
- Nuncupative Will
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, is a federal law with significant impacts on healthcare and health insurance. Under HIPAA, your personal health information is generally protected from disclosure to third parties, except as you authorize or as required by law.
A HIPAA Authorization is a document authorizing the release of medical records protected under HIPAA. This includes naming designated representatives who may receive protected medical records, despite the privacy protections of HIPAA.
A HIPAA Authorization works with a Living Will to ensure that your Healthcare Agents can communicate with your healthcare providers about your condition, treatment, and prognosis. Without HIPAA Authorization, your family, loved ones, and designated representatives may be unable to receive information about your medical condition.
Creating a HIPAA Authorization authorizes specific people to receive health care information so they can stay informed about your condition and make medical decisions on your behalf.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a document by which you appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf. The person appointed in a Power of Attorney is often referred to as an “Agent” or an “Attorney-in-Fact.” There are generally two types of powers of attorney:
Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney names agents to make healthcare and medical decisions on your behalf. In some states, the medical power of attorney may be a part of a living will or health care directive.
Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney names agents to handle financial and business decisions on your behalf. Financial powers of attorney may be broad and apply to nearly any non-medical decision.
A Trust is a legal fiduciary arrangement that allows you to set up your assets to be held and managed by a third party. This party is known as a Trustee, and the person or firm you appoint to this role will be responsible for ensuring that your estate is handled in the manner you’ve outlined.
Despite what many people think, Trusts can benefit all sized estates, not just very large ones. A common misconception is that an Estate Planning Trust is only suitable for the extremely wealthy. But the reality is that there are many benefits to a Trust, including:
- Avoiding probate
- Reduced or eliminated estate and gift taxes
There are multiple types of Trusts, and it’s essential to assess your needs and goals before deciding which type you’ll create, which may include:
- Revocable vs Irrevocable Trusts
- Living Trusts
- Joint Trusts
- Testamentary Trusts
- Charitable Trusts
- Special Needs Trusts
- Asset Protection Trusts
- AB Trusts
- Blind Trusts
- Insurance Trusts
- Spendthrift Trusts
- QTIP Trusts
- Credit shelter Trusts
Certification of Trust
A Certification of Trust is a short document summarizing the key terms of the Trust without revealing private details. Certifications of Trust are used when dealing with others about the Trust when you might need to share some info but might not want to share a complete copy of the Trust.
The Certification of Trust states basic details about the Trust, identifies the Trustees, and summarizes the powers held by the Trustees. However, a Certification of Trust doesn’t identify the assets held, the beneficiaries, or the gifts made under the Trust.
Nomination of Guardian
Being nominated as a Guardian is a tremendous honor! It’s a testament to your character and relationship with the person who nominated you. This is because the responsibility of a Guardian is to care for a minor child should their parents pass.
How is a Guardian nominated?
A Guardian may be nominated by a parent in a Will or another estate planning document. After a parent passes, a court typically will approve the nomination and legally appoint a Guardian.
When do my responsibilities kick in?
You have no responsibilities until you’re appointed as Guardian by a court. After that, the court appointment and state law will determine your specific duties, powers, and responsibilities.
Should I advertise that I’m a Guardian?
Although you have no responsibilities now, it might be helpful to have a conversation with the person that nominated you. While it may be difficult to raise this subject in exchange, remember that you were appointed as someone trusted to care for their children potentially. Conversation with the person that nominated you might give you better insight into their preferences and desires regarding their children.
A beneficiary designation is naming the person who will inherit an asset in the event of the account owner’s passing. Some common examples include life insurance policies and retirement accounts. When the account owner passes away, their assets are transferred to the beneficiary they designated.
It’s also possible to designate your estate as the beneficiary. Then, instead of transferring the asset to a person, the asset is transferred to the estate. Then, the asset is distributed according to the provisions in your Trust or Will.
Planning ahead for life’s unknowns is the best gift you can give…not only to yourself but also to the loved ones around you. It’s a difficult thing to think about, and navigating it may seem overwhelming. But now is the perfect time to really start planning for what may happen in your future. Thinking about an Advance Directive (also known as a Healthcare Directive) at an early age will make things so much easier on everyone you love during a likely very difficult time.
Types of Advance Healthcare Directives
There are two basic ways you can prepare in the event you become incapacitated or unable to make healthcare decisions on your own. These are elements of an Advance Healthcare Directive through a Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney or a Living Will. A third possibility is to use a hybrid of these two – combined documents that blend aspects of both into one document.
However you go about it, your goal is to better ensure your wishes are known and followed should the time ever come when you can’t make your own decisions regarding your medical care.
Your Healthcare Directive can make sure doctors and your family know how you feel about many different types of medical decisions. While they’re not all required parts of a directive, some of the things you can address include:
- Artificial hydration (IV fluids)
- Artificial nutrition (tube feeding)
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- Comfort care
- Do Not Intubate (DNI) orders
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders
- Organ donation wishes
- Tissue donation wishes
- And more…