Estate Planning Triggers – Part One – What is “Estate Planning”?

Estate Planning is the set of declarations of what you want to have happen when you can no longer make decisions for yourself due to death, injury or illness.

Normal Estate Planning includes Wills,Powers of Attorney for Health Care, and Powers of Attorney for Financial Matters.

  • A Will controls the distribution of your property after you pass, and also establishes who would be guardian for children who have not reached “legal age”.
  • A Power of Attorney for Health Care (sometimes called a “medical directive”), appoints someone to make health care decisions for you if you cannot make one for yourself.  This normally includes directions on whether to engage in, or withhold, “life sustaining procedures.”
  • A Power of Attorney for Financial Matters appoints someone to make financial decisions for you if you cannot make one for yourself.  This normally includes the power to sell your property.

Estate Planning can also include trusts.

  • A trust is a series of instructions to a trustee on how to manage the assets entrusted to them.  Those instructions, normally include some direction on how the income of the trust is to be used and when the trust’s assets will be distributed to the specified beneficiaries.
  • Trusts can be created in a Will (called a “testamentary trust”) or can be established separately (called an inter-vivios trust).
  • We commonly include a trust in Wills to protect potential beneficiaries who are minors at the time of execution of a Will (like children) or could be minors at the time of your passing (like grandchildren).
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