• James D. Lynch

Other Estate Planning Documents In Addition To The Will

In addition to a will, there are other estate planning documents. These other documents are an important part of an estate plan because they provide guidance on who can make decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated. Unlike a will, these other estate planning documents go into effect before death.


1) Durable Power of Attorney. The durable power of attorney is a power of attorney for financial decisions. In this document, you authorize someone to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are incapable of making them for yourself. Examples of such financial decisions may include handling your banking transactions, selling your home, or managing your investments.


2) Medical Power of Attorney. The medical power of attorney is a power of attorney for health care decisions. In this document, you authorize someone to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are incapable of making them for yourself. The person you designate as your medical power of attorney does not have to be the same as the durable power of attorney. You can designate one person to be in charge of your finances and another person to be in charge of your medical decisions.


3) HIPAA Authorization. In the HIPAA authorization, you grant someone the right to access your private medical records. HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which protects the privacy of healthcare information. Healthcare providers cannot release your personal medical information to someone else unless you grant them permission with this HIPAA authorization.


4) Living Will. A living will may also be known as a “Physician’s Directive” or a “Pull-The-Plug” document. This document sets forth your wishes regarding whether you would like to remain on artificial life support if there is no chance of survival. Unlike a Last Will, which directs how you want your property distributed after your death, a living will gives directions regarding the medical care you do or don’t want to receive if you are in a terminal state and can’t communicate your medical care wishes.