Estate planning is important because it enables you to ensure that your estate will be distributed to the people you want and in the way you want. All estate plans should include, at a minimum, 3 important documents.
Durable Power of Attorney
First, for most people who are concerned about the management of their assets, in case they become disabled, is a Durable Power of Attorney. This document appoints an Agent (sometimes called an Attorney-in-fact) to act in your place for financial purposes if you become incapacitated or disabled, even if it is just temporary. In 2016 the State of Connecticut adopted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act which revised prior laws and clarified the powers and duties of the Agent.
Last Will and Testament
Second, we believe that everyone should have a Will. Even if you do not have many assets at the present you may have more when you die. The Will is a legally executed document directing who will receive your property at your death and who will oversee your estate, i.e. the Executor. If you die without a Will your probate estate will be distributed in accordance with the laws of the state where you reside. That may not be what you intended to happen. Assets that are jointly owned or owned with named beneficiaries do not pass through the Will. Therefore, we review your entire financial situation to be sure that your assets are distributed according to your testamentary plan.
Appointment of a Healthcare Agent
Third, we always discuss with our client the importance of predesignating a person or persons who will be able to make healthcare decisions for you if you are incapacitated. Therefore, we suggest that you execute an Appointment of a Healthcare Agent form. This document usually includes your wishes regarding end of life decisions, i.e. Living Will. Your Healthcare Agent will be able to make crucial decisions regarding your need for medical treatment if you can no longer make these decisions yourself. Just because you have a spouse or only one child does not mean that person has the ability to make these decisions.
Many of the estate planning and gifting decisions you will need to make will be affected by the Title 19 (Medicaid) rules and regulations. We will guide you through the Medicaid planning process as part of our estate planning review. If necessary, Joseph R. Crispino can also prepare Title 19 applications for you.