Estate Planning DocumentsPosted by Stacey Romberg on April 5th, 2011
Last Will and Testament
Your Last Will and Testament enables you to make a legal disposition of your property upon your death. You select a person you trust, known as a “Personal Representative,” to administer your estate according to your stated instructions.
General Durable Power of Attorney
This document enables you to select a person, referred to as your “Attorney-in-Fact,” who will take charge of your financial affairs in the event of incompetency. We recommend that you name an alternate, in case the person you select isn’t able to assist you. You should select someone you trust. Your Attorney-in-Fact should be financially responsible, and be able to pay your bills, make wise investment choices, and otherwise take care of all your financial matters. You also need to decide when to make the document effective. Married couples often like to make the General Durable Power of Attorney effective immediately. The General Durable Power of Attorney then allows them the flexibility to sign necessary documents and complete financial transactions for their spouse if their spouse is out of town or otherwise unavailable. However, most of our clients choose to make their General Durable Power of Attorney effective upon their disability.
Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions
This document authorizes your designated “Attorney-in-Fact” to make decisions about your medical treatment in the event of incompetency. You should select someone you trust. You should feel confident that your Attorney-in-Fact will respect your wishes regarding medical treatment, and make good choices for you. We recommend that you select someone who lives close by, so that your Attorney-in-Fact will be able to sign necessary documentation in the event of a medical emergency. However, if you are choosing between someone you trust and someone who is close, we recommend that you choose based on the trust. You should also name an alternate in case the person you select isn’t able to assist you. This document is particularly important if you are in a gay relationship or unmarried heterosexual relationship, because it can allow your partner to have visitation rights and to otherwise have a say in your care and treatment.
Mental Health Advance Directive
Similar to a Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions, this document authorizes your designated “Attorney-in-Fact” to make decisions about your mental health treatment in the event of incompetency.
Health Care Directive
A Health Care Directive, commonly referred as a “living will,” allows you to indicate whether you would like your life to be “artificially prolonged” in the event of an injury, disease or terminal condition that prevents you from communicating your wishes. Although some people disagree with this document from a religious perspective, other people believe it creates the option for them to have more control over their death and for death to be a more dignified process. We believe it is important for people to have full information, and to make choices based upon their own personal beliefs.
Community Property Agreement
Community Property Agreements are used by married couples, in certain circumstances, to transfer their ownership in any assets to a surviving spouse in lieu of probate. It should not be used if the couple has a taxable estate or if the couple wishes to qualify for Medicaid benefits. However, it can be an incredibly effective and useful tool to pass assets efficiently and inexpensively to the surviving spouse upon the first spouse’s death.
RCW 68.50.160(1) states: “A person has the right to control the disposition of his or her own remains without the predeath or postdeath consent of another person. A valid written document expressing the decedent’s wishes regarding the place or method of disposition of his or her remains, signed by the decedent in the presence of a witness, is sufficient legal authorization for the procedures to be accomplished.”
Our office can assist you in preparing this document upon request.
- Estate Planning Form
- Three Videos: Debbie Whitlock interviews Stacey Romberg on Estate Planning
- Recorded radio interview on KKNW 1150 am – Fem Finance with Debbie Whitlock