Consider what would happen if you are seriously injured with no estate plan in place? The resulting expense, stress and potential for conflict in the family could be worse than you might think.
With a dramatic flourish, a recent article in AgPro, “4 Estate Planning Documents You Need Beyond a Will,” asks a blunt question: what would happen to your family and your business, if you got hit by a bus tomorrow?
Estate planning attorneys advise that you should make your estate plan to match your current situation, rather than “what-if’s” that may or may not occur many years in the future. If you get hit by a bus, you might die or you might not, so you need a portfolio of “not dead yet documents.” In addition to a will and/or a trust, the documents should include the following:
Power of Attorney. Signing this document means that you give a trusted agent the power to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. You can also create two separate powers of attorney: one that gives authority to a business partner to make decisions concerning your farm or company; and one naming a spouse or family member to handle your personal finances.
Living Will. This document states your intent that, under certain circumstances, you want medical efforts to be withheld or withdrawn and that you want to be allowed to die naturally with only medication and procedures necessary for comfort and to alleviate pain. A living will can reduce some of the stress and burden from family members, in the event that they have to make an end-of-life decision.
Healthcare Directive. This is a life-prolonging procedure declaration and is the opposite of a living will. It states your intent for healthcare providers to use and continue all life-prolonging procedures that might possibly extend your life.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Release. Because of this federal law, a loved one or agent will not be able to access your medical records without a HIPAA release that authorizes access. Having this document in place, will eliminate delays if making decisions requires a look at your medical records.
By having these “not dead yet” documents in place, you provide your family with the tools they need to take care of you in an already highly stressful situation.
Reference: AgPro (November 21, 2016) “4 Estate Planning Documents You Need Beyond a Will”