The three basic documents in estate planning are the Will, Financial Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney. For families with disabled individuals a Special Needs Trust may be appropriate to protect assets. Each document appoints a fiduciary to carry out your wishes as outlined in each document. Often, the person(s) named for each role in each document is the same but sometimes you may feel that one person is more suited for healthcare decision making and another for financial affairs.
In the Will you set out your wishes for the disposition of your estate after your death and you nominate a Personal Representative (formerly known as an “Executor”) who carries out those wishes upon being appointed by a Probate Court
In the Financial Power of Attorney you (the “Principal”) name an “Agent,” who has authority during your lifetime to handle your financial affairs.
The Health Care Power of Attorney names an agent to make healthcare decisions if you can’t make or express your own wishes. We often include a Living Will, if you would not want extraordinary measures when diagnosed with a terminal condition or persistent vegetative state, and a HIPAA Release so that your agents have access to your medical information.
In a Special Needs Trust, you (the “Settlor”) appoint a Trustee to protect and manage the assets of a disabled person. By placing assets in such a trust you can protect the disabled individual’s eligibility for public benefits while affording them access, through the trustee, to funds to provide for “special” needs such as transportation, education, personal care, etc.
Whether you’re thinking about retirement soon, or you or a loved one is facing the prospect of admission to assisted living or a nursing home, we can help you develop strategies to protect your assets for your use and for your beneficiaries, especially in the area of MaineCare.
This is a legal process in which a deceased person’s will is proven valid (mostly a routine matter), identifying, inventorying and appraising property, paying debts and taxes and distributing the remaining property as directed by the will – or as state law directs if there is no will.
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