Five Estate Planning Documents You Need (Article)

Five Estate Planning Documents You Need

August is “National Make a Will Month.”  If you are like most people, getting a last will and testament has been on your “to-do” list for a while. According to Gallup Polls, 54% of Americans do not have a will.

Here are five estate planning documents you need to protect you and your family.

  1. Last Will and Testament (Will). Your will directs financial and personal affairs after your passing, names the person responsible for administering your estate, names beneficiaries, and outlines guardians for your minor children.
  2. Financial Power of Attorney. This document authorizes someone to act on your behalf in financial, personal business and tax matters if you become incapacitated.
  3. Medical Power of Attorney. This document names someone to act as your agent for medical decisions if you are incapacitated.  This person is responsible for basic medical decisions that aren’t necessarily related to end-of-life, and they serve as an advocate for your care.
  4. Living Will (Advanced Health Care Directive). This specifies your wishes for end-of-life care if you are unable to communicate. It details the life-sustaining medical treatments that you do or do not want.
  5. HIPPA Release Form / Authorization. Did you know that it is unlawful for health care professionals to disclose information to anyone without this authorization?  The HIPPA Release Form grants access to medical records and information to the person you name.

Not sure who to contact to get your legal documents written? Start with your employers Employee Assistance Program, many EAPs offer legal services to employees at a discounted rate.  Alternate options include using a local estate planning attorney or an online service such as

Francis Investment Counsel does not provide legal or tax advice.

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