Ongoing planning is the key to a successful estate plan. Your will should be reviewed no less than every three years to ensure it still reflects your wishes. A will only controls your affairs after you die. When your will is drafted, powers of attorney should also be drafted both for your financial and health care affairs in case you become disabled or incapacitated.
A Last Will & Testament is a great foundation for many estate plans. A will is a document that expresses your last wishes, including how you wish for your estate to be distributed, and who will manage those affairs. An effective will can be beneficial for your loved ones at a difficult time, as it provides certainty about your wishes, hopes, fears and values. A will is used to set out the terms of how your assets are distributed upon your death.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney
Powers of Attorney go by many different names in the estate planning context. A durable financial power of attorney is used to designate someone to act on your behalf regarding your financial affairs. Not having powers of attorney can be burdensome for your family and others trying to care for you if you become incapacitated or disabled. Sometimes, a conservator will need to be appointed through conservatorship proceedings. A court then supervises the conservator, and the conservator is obligated to provide an ongoing accounting of your affairs. Ensuring that a financial power of attorney is included in your estate plan could eliminate the need to request that the Probate Court in your county appoint a Conservator of your property if you are incapacitated. Conservatorships should generally be avoided due to the expense and burden of having the Probate Court monitor the activities of the conservator.
Health Care Directive
This document allows an individual to seek out and manage health care for you when you become ill, incapacitated or disabled and cannot make decisions for yourself. There are many different forms of Health Care Directives or Living Wills. The Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care is a document that allows you to appoint someone to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to communicate your wishes. It is a detailed document that enables you to make choices regarding specific types of health care you are willing to be subjected to, and to state your treatment preferences if you have a terminal condition or if you are in a state of permanent unconsciousness. It is used to allow your appointed agent access to your health care information when they otherwise would not be allowed that information pursuant to the privacy protections required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). You may also have your health care agent make decisions for you after your death with respect to autopsy, organ donation, body donation and final disposition of your body. With this document, you can also appoint a Guardian in the event of permanent physical and mental incapacity.