Getting Your Estate in Order


There are five estate planning documents that just about everyone needs, regardless of age, health, or wealth. Do you have yours? Here’s why you might want to consider them:

1) Durable Power of Attorney  (DPOA)

• Helps protect your property if you become unable to do so
• Allows you to authorize a selected person to act on your behalf — to do things like paying bills, collecting benefits, watching over your investments, and filing taxes

There are two types of DPOAs:

• An “immediate DPOA,” which is effective immediately (which may be necessary if you face a serious operation or illness)
• A “springing DPOA,” which is not effective unless you become incapacitated

2) Advance Medical Directives  (AMD)

These documents are designed to inform others what medical treatment you would want, if you can’t express your wishes yourself.  They can also allow someone else to make medical decisions for you. If you don’t use an AMD, doctors are required to prolong your life using artificial means if needed — even if that means for months or years.

There are three types; talk to your attorney about which is right for your wishes:

• A “living will” allows you to approve or decline certain types of medical care. They typically are only effective in the event of a terminal injury or illness.
• A “durable power of attorney” (aka “a healthcare proxy”) lets you appoint someone else to make medical decisions for you. And you can decide how much power this person will have.
• A “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) order, which tells medical providers not to perform CPR if you go into cardiac arrest.

3) Will

A will helps you disburse property in the way that you wish, upon your death. Additionally, a will allows you to name an executor to manage and settle your estate, and to name a legal guardian for minor children or dependents with special needs. You’ll need to keep your will updated as life circumstances change for you and your family.

4) Letter of Instruction

• An non-legal document that can accompany your will.
• Typically used to express personal thoughts about the will or about your burial wishes, etc.
• Remains private, allowing you to communicate personal messages to your family and executor. Directions you may include are not legally binding.

5) Living Trust

• Acts as its ow separate, legal entity which can own property — like your home or investments.
• Functions while you’re still alive.
• You control the property, and can transfer property in and out of it, end it, or change terms at any time.
• The goal of a living trust is to avoid probate, which could be time-consuming and expensive. The living trust allows for almost immediate distribution of assets to family members who need them.

Next steps
Need help moving forward on these important documents? Horizon Bank financial advisers are happy to talk with you about your needs, and provide guidance on how to get the documentation you need. Stop by your local branch or contact us with questions.