Estate planning allows individuals to make choices for the disposition of their estates/assets at death, whether through Last Will and Testaments, Revocable Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, certain types of partnerships, or variations of all of the above. If individuals have the mental capacity to execute powers of attorney and other advance directives, successful preparation of the documents protects them in later cases of incapacity from having to be under a court ordered guardianship.
Wills and Trusts allow an individual the ability to control the disposition of their estates after their deaths. In planning for the spouses of incapacitated individuals, the use of testamentary “Supplemental Needs Trusts” can prevent Medicaid recipients from losing eligibility for benefits due to financial bequests.
Properly drafted Durable Powers of Attorney allow a person to choose who they want to help them with their finances in cases of later incapacity. Similarly, Medical Powers of Attorney provide for an agent to help make medical decisions without having to have a court ordered guardianship. In Medicaid planning it is especially important that an agent have certain powers that are not standard in a simple statutory durable power of attorney.
Advance Directives are essential documents in cases of later incapacity as well. Through a Directive to Physicians individuals can provide instructions to their physicians as to their end of life wishes; ie, when one is in a terminal or an irreversible condition whether the individual wants to be kept alive using all available means or wants to be allowed to die as gently as possible. A Designation of Guardian can be used to protect against guardianship litigation in certain circumstances. A Designation of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains allows an agent to oversee cremation or burial instructions.