Estate Planning

ESTATE PLANNING IN MISSOULA, MT

The basic components of estate planning are five documents:

  1. Durable Power of Attorney
  2. Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  3. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Release
  4. End of Life Directive
  5. Will

The Durable Power of Attorney is the legal document wherein a person, called the Principal, appoints an attorney-in-fact, sometimes called an agent, to act for and on behalf of the Principal for financial and family matters. An attorney-in-fact does not need to be an attorney. As a matter of fact, a family member or good friend is often a better choice than an attorney. An example of the use of a Durable Power of Attorney is if one is injured or ill and unable to manage one’s affairs, an attorney-in-fact (agent) can deposit checks, pay bills, discuss insurance claims and otherwise manage the Principal’s financial affairs.

The Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is the legal document wherein a person, called the Principal, appoints someone, called the attorney-in-fact or agent, to make medical decisions when the Principal is unable to make and communicate medical decisions, usually because of accident or illness. It is the document by which you get to choose who will speak for you when you cannot.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Release is the document that enables a person to get copies of medical records of another person, such as a spouse or child over 18. The most common need for the HIPAA Release is to get the medical records needed to make informed decisions under a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and to deal with an insurer’s denial of a claim.

The End of Life Directive is the legal document wherein one says how they want to be treated at the end of life. Without this document, family and friends may have to go to court to get permission to cease life support.

The Will is the legal document wherein one says who is to raise their minor children and where they want their property to go. The Will is also the document wherein one can state whether there is to be burial or cremation, and a funeral or celebration of life. Possibly the most important part of the Will is appointing the personal representative, the person who will carry out one’s wishes.

Trusts are legal entities that can own property. Trusts are administered by a trustee. The maker of a Trust can put provisions in the Trust about what property is to go to whom at their death which is similar to a will, but without the probate process.