These documents will ensure that you can assist your parents in a medical or financial emergency and, at their deaths, ease the distribution of their estate.
1. A MEDICAL DIRECTIVE
Also known as a living will or advance health care directive, this document sets out what kind of care your parents want to receive if and when they become ill or incapacitated. An advance health care directive is the primary legal tool for protecting a person’s healthcare wishes if and when he can’t speak for himself. The health care directive applies any time the person is unable to communicate, whether or not the situation is life threatening, and for however long is necessary.
2. A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTHCARE AND HIPAA RELEASE
A durable power of attorney for healthcare allows you to make healthcare decisions for your parents. A HIPAA release gives you access to your parents’ health records and physicians.
3. A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR FINANCES
A power of attorney for finances is a document that appoints a person — or sometimes an institution such as a bank or trust company — to handle someone’s financial affairs. A power of attorney for finances can also be used to make life easier for your parents, for example, or loved ones even though they still make decisions and handle some financial matters themselves. Or it can be used to handle all their financial matters when they’re incapable of doing so themselves.
4. A REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST
It allows your parents to retain control over their estate while making transfers of assets to beneficiaries. Your parents designate what property (home, investments, jewelry, and so on) goes into the trust and to whom it will be granted. During their lifetimes, your parents act as executors of their own living trust. A revocable living trust has an important advantage: it allows their estate to avoid probate at the time of their deaths.
5. A WILL
A will makes clear who will receive your parents’ assets and personal property. A properly written will helps to avoid disagreements over your parents’ estate after their deaths. Good estate planning is simply making sure that the financial assets that are most important to you and your family – no matter how much or how little — go to the intended recipients as quickly, cheaply, and easily as possible.