What estate planning documents do I really need to protect my family and myself? Even though Virginia's laws governing wills, estates, and fiduciaries allow for many things to be accomplished without the intervention of the courts, part of proper estate planning involves creating documents which are useful during your lifetime as well as an effectively drawn will that can simplify the task of the person handling the affairs of an estate.
A will must be signed with very strict formalities, or it may be of no effect. An experienced attorney best carries out execution of the will.
We often refer to a POA as "durable" when it contains provisions that the grant of authority does not terminate upon a subsequent disability of the person granting the power.
An Advance Directive for Health Care
Having an advanced health directive (a document that usually incorporates language commonly referred to as a "living will") allows you to name a Healthcare Agent to make medical decisions for you if you are not able to do so. The document should also give your agent access to your medical records and allow your treating physicians and agent to discuss your health issues; powers which are not readily available because of state and federal (HIPAA) privacy laws. You can also make your wishes clear about special concerns such as autopsy, organ donation, and life support. It is literally a matter of life and death. Do not neglect this crucial area.
According to Consumer Reports only 7 percent of those persons ages 18 to 29 have an advance directive. At age 18, a child is an adult for purposes of medical decision-making. Unanticipated tragedy can strike, even those ages 18 to 29. If you have a child in that age range, suggest that he or she sign an advance directive for health care with appropriate HIPAA releases and designation of a Healthcare Agent.