November 7, 2017

4 Estate Planning Documents You Need

 |  By: Sara Schafer

What if you get hit by a bus tomorrow? You should make your estate plan to match your current situation, not the what-if possibility of years down the road, says Polly Dobbs, attorney with Dobbs Legal Group and member of the Farm Journal Legacy Project Advisory Team.

“If you get hit by a bus, you might die or you might not,” Dobbs says. That’s why she recommends having a portfolio of “not dead yet documents.”

Beyond will or trust documents, these documents include:

1. Power of attorney. Signing a power of attorney means you give someone else the authority to act on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. You can also choose to give someone that authority when you sign the document.

2. Living will declaration. This document states your wish for medical procedures to be withheld or withdrawn, under certain circumstances, so you die naturally. Signing a living will can help take the burden of a difficult decision off your family members’ shoulders.

3. Life-prolonging procedures declaration. The opposite of a living will, this document states your intent for health care providers to use and continue all life-prolonging procedures that could potentially extend your life.

4. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) release. Any time someone must deal with your otherwise private medical records, it is important to include HIPAA release language granting them access to your records.

“These documents are vital to create a complete plan and prevent unneeded stress on your family members,” Dobbs says.