The Edwards' Law Offices
Estate Planning Attorney  - Illinois & Missouri  

The Edwards' Law Offices      

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Estate Plan Insight

Everyone needs a "Plan, " whether they have no assets, a few, or many. With an Estate Plan "Plan," you can make life immensely easier for loved ones and yourself if you become incapacitated and when you pass away. The key components (Will, Living Trust, Financial Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Healthcare Directive(Living Will), HIPAA Waiver) are briefly discussed below. However, if you are already incapacitated, it is too late for powers of attorney. Your relatives will be forced to go to court to gain authority over you and your affairs, which could mean disagreements, resulting in a costly and emotional confrontation.  A well-planned estate can preserve the continuity of your family and loved ones and help prevent disputes after your passing. 

The Will.  
  • Provides instructions to the court about who is to receive your assets and raise your minor children.  
  • Appoints a personal representative to wind up your affairs
  • Can disinherit individuals you do not want to receive anything
  • Can appoint someone (guardian)  to care for and raise any minor children
  • Can donate to favorite charities, i.e., schools, religious organizations 
  • Goes into effect after death
Note. Without a "will," your state intestacy rules determine who receives your assets and the court who will raise any minor children.  Also, most people need more than a "will' to protect their estates, loved ones, and themselves.
Revocable Living Trust (RLT)
  • The Trust Maker (you) keeps control over assets while alive and instructs what happens to trust assets at your death
  • Provides privacy /confidentiality
  • Effective, when executed and, funded
  • Can be amended or terminated 
  • Can reduce or eliminate estate taxes 
  • Avoids the time consuming and costly process of probate
  • The Trust Maker (You) can maintain control over beneficiaries’ inheritance to protect from spouses, predators, and creditors
  • Ideal if there is real estate and/or minor children

General Durable Power of Attorney

  • The "principal" (You) appoints someone (Attorney-in-fact") to manage your financial affairs and property if you cannot
  • Becomes  effective when signed 
  • The authority includes managing bank accounts, paying bills, signing tax returns, applying for government benefits, signing and terminating leases, and engaging in similar activities relating to your financial and legal affairs.
  • Can avoid guardianship and conservatorship
  • Ineffective after your death 
Medical Power of Attorney.  
  • The Principal (You)  appoint someone to make health care (medical) decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so
  • Authority includes  admittance or dismissal from a hospital, authorizing medical procedures, terminating food and water, or life support)
  • Can avoid guardianship 

Healthcare Directive(Living Will)

States your wishes about life-prolonging procedures to be withheld or withdrawn 

  • If you have a terminal 
  • If you have an end-stage condition 
  • If you are in a persistent vegetative state

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)  
  • Protects your (patient) personal health information from disclosure without your consent
  • Is how you can release protected information – e.g., health status, progress, and treatment - to others 
  • It can be challenging to obtain that information from hospitals and medical providers without it.