|Revocable Living Trust
A Revocable Living Trust is a will substitute. It is a written legal document that creates an entity to which you transfer ownership of your assets. You do not lose control of your assets once transferred into your Trust. The Trust contains your instructions for managing your assets during your lifetime and for their distribution upon your incapacity or death.
The person who is transferring the assets into the trust, the one who creates the trust is the grantor. The grantor can also be referred to as the trust maker or settlor. You, the grantor, because you are creating your trust will appoint trustees. A trustee is a person who will manage and distributes your assets in the trust according to your instructions in the trust. You generally serve as the initial trustee of your trust while you are alive and capable. Your spouse generally serves as a co-trustee along with you. Then upon your death your spouse will serve as trustee. You will also name successor trustee(s). This is someone who will serve as trustee after you and your spouse die.
In addition to the initial trustee, yourself, can name a disability trustee. This is someone who serves as trustee in the event that you become incapacitated or disabled and can no longer manage your affairs.
Unlike a Will, a Trust, if funded properly avoids the time and cost the probate process. The probate process is the court proceeding which transfers your assets to your beneficiaries. With a trust this is accomplished without involving the court, as your assets have already been transferred to your trust. Funding a trust is just the process of transferring ownership of your assets to your Revocable Living Trust. This involves the re-titling of assets to the Trust. You are changing ownership from you to the Trust, thereby eliminating the need for probate upon your death. However, during your lifetime you do not lose control of your asset. A Trust lets you keep maximum control while you are living, even if you become incapacitated, and after you die. It also allows you to give your assets to whom you want to, when and how you want to. A Trust gives you peace of mind.
Pour Over Will
A type of will used with a Revocable Living Trust that acts as a safety net. It directs that if any assets are discovered outside of the trust, after you die, the Pour Over Will transfers these assets to your trust. These forgotten assets will have to go through probate, but will pour into your Trust. Your trust is the sole beneficiary of the Pour Over Will.
The Pour Over Will name a personal representative or executor. These terms are used interchangeable. Basically it is someone appointed by you and subsequently approved by the probate court to administer your Pour Over Will. In most cases, the personal representative, and the successor trustee(s) are the same people. This eliminates conflicts after you die.
Health Care Surrogate
A document that lets you give someone else the authority to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them for yourself. A Health Care Surrogate is someone who you are close to or trust to make decisions regarding your health care. This person will make health care decisions if for some reason you are unable to. For example, you are taken to the hospital and you are unconscious, and the doctors need to contact someone to get permission to attend to you, your health care surrogate is that someone the hospital will contact to get that permission.
A Health Care Surrogate document is different that a Living Will. A living will is important when you are near death and are then unable to express your wishes. (See living Will for more detail as to what a Living Will accomplishes.)
A written document that is not actually a will, but a set of instructions, or an expression of your Intentions, that lets your physician and love ones know of your wishes and desires regarding the use or nonuse, or the withdrawal, of medical treatment or extraordinary procedures that would artificially prolong life. Should you be in a incurable or irreversible condition, that will cause death in a relatively short time, or you are in a vegetative state or permanently unconscious state you need to insure that your wishes are known.
The document designates someone who, it can be a loved one or a trusted friend, who after being informed of your medical condition and consulting with your treating physician(s), will see that your wishes are carried out. The Health Care Surrogate and the Living Will Designee are generally the same people.
Authorization for release of protected health information
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act your medical records are private and even your spouse is not entitled to access to your records. This authorization for release of protected health information is sometimes referred to as the HIPA Authorization, is a written document that designates who besides yourself, you want to have access to your medical information.
In the document you will designate the people who you want to get this information. These people can and usually do consist of you love ones, your personal representative, the trustees of your trust, including your disability trustee, and any and all successor trustees.
Durable Power of Attorney
A written legal document by which a principal, you, who appoints another person, an attorney-in-fact, to perform specific acts on behalf of the principal. Generally a power of attorney grants the attorney-in-fact broad powers to deal with all of your assets and to take action on your behalf. Traditionally a Power of Attorney terminates upon your disability or death. However, a Durable Power of Attorney remains valid after you become incapacitated. To be a Durable Power of Attorney, the document must specifically state that it is to continue upon your legal incapacity. Durable Powers of Attorney are used in disability planning to allow the attorney-in-fact to act on your behalf during periods of disability. The attorney-in-fact's powers which were given by the Durable Power of Attorney is revoked on your death. The attorney-in-fact is likewise, generally the same person(s) who are your successor (disability and death) trustees.
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