What You Do When you Make an Estate Plan,
Part 3

Special Needs Trust

This is covered in the section Planning for Your Child’s Future.

Trustee

This is the person who is responsible for making financial decisions for the special needs trust or your will after your death. The trustee may be someone from your bank or credit union, a financial advisor, an attorney, your child’s guardian, or someone you trust and who you think will savvy managing your money. You want to select a trustee whom you completely trust—someone aligned with your money values and inspired to carry out your wishes as you would yourself.

Guardian

This is covered in the section Planning for Your Child’s Future.

Living Will

This is a legal document that instructs family members, caregivers, and medical professionals on what type of medical treatment you want should you be unable to request it yourself. Often living wills come into play when one becomes terminally ill or permanently unconscious and does not care to have advanced, life-saving treatments to prolong these conditions. The living will includes a power of attorney—the person you select to make medical decisions on your behalf should you be unable to. Similar in selecting a trustee, you want to select a power of attorney whom you completely trust—someone who is aligned with your values and life philosophy.

Will

A will is a legal document that specifies how you want your property and possessions distributed, and to whom (your beneficiaries) after your death. Without a will, the courts would decide who gets what. Parents of children with disabilities who need government services should not name their children as an heir. Doing so may disqualify them from receiving government benefits.

Durable Power of Attorney (for financial decisions)

A legal document where you designate someone (an agent) to act on your behalf should you be unable to. The durable power of attorney remains effective should you become physically or mentally unable to make decisions. Take care in drafting this document by:

  • Being specific about what financial responsibilities it includes, or not.
  • Appointing an agent you would completely trust with your financial matters.

Health Care Proxy (for medical decisions)

This is a legal document that designates someone of your choice to make medical decisions for you should you be unable to; also known as "health care surrogate" or "durable medical power of attorney."

 

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