You might be asking, what is an estate plan and why would I need one? Definitely schedule a FREE consultation with Attorney Melcher to discuss what might be appropriate for you. However, to explain – an estate plan is a set of documents that will establish and formalize your directions for what should happen with your property, your children, your assets, should you become unavailable, incapacitated or deceased. At the Law Offices of Maura Melcher, your estate plan will always contain, at minimum, the following documents.
1. HEALTH CARE PROXY. Healthcare Proxy is a document that allows you to appoint someone you trust to make healthcare choices on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. If you do not have a healthcare proxy prior to becoming incapacitated, the state could be forced to make medical decisions on your behalf.
2. HIPAA RELEASE. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA, was created in 1996 by Congress to protect the privacy of your healthcare information. The act prohibits hospitals, doctors and any healthcare providers from releasing your health care information unless you specifically assent with a HIPAA release form. Unless you have provided a signed release form, your health care providers are prohibited from discussing any aspect of your medical information with anyone who is not directly involved in your care.
3. LIVING WILL. Although Living Wills are not legally enforceable in Massachusetts, I always encourage my clients to sign one. They contain information about which life-sustaining procedures you may want or not want to be instituted should you become critically ill and incapacitated. The Living Will acts as a guide for your family members so that they can be certain they are following your wishes. It helps the family act and can help relieve the burden placed on your loved ones when forced to make that difficult type of decision.
4. DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY. A Power of Attorney is an important documents to have as it allows someone you trust to manage your affairs – if you were to become incapacitated. They can handle any facet of your finances, if the need arises. For example, the mortgage or other bills may need to be paid – but without the power of attorney, your loved ones cannot access your bills or records to determine what is owed. Perhaps you are in the stock market and your broker needs to sell a stock, but you are unable to assent; your Power of Attorney can act for you. This can also be helpful for couples, who can legally sign for one another, with a Power of Attorney in place. You don’t have to be ill to be unavailable to sign – and, as we all know, life is hectic. A Power of Attorney can be a great tool to help you manage your affairs.
5. DISPOSITION INSTRUCTIONS. It can be difficult to have end-of-life conversations with your loved ones and some people put these difficult talks off until it is too late. If you have disposition instructions in your estate plan, you can be assured that your loved ones will know what your preferences are. Call MAURA MELCHER TODAY for more information.