The purpose of a will is to set down the manner and disposition of an individual’s assets and his or her estate, at the time of his or her death. A will has no effect during a person’s lifetime. It only deals with the disposition of the person’s assets at the time of death. The will should be crafted by an experienced estate planning lawyer. It needs to be executed in accordance with specific formalities as prescribed by law. These formalities vary from state to state.
A living will is a document that deals with life prolonging issues. In a living will, an individual specifies which life prolonging measures and medical procedures he or she wants utilized in the event of his or her incapacity. The living will also needs to be executed with specific execution formalities. This document should only be drafted by an attorney experienced with elder law end of life issues.
A revocable living trust is a testamentary document similar to a will. However, a revocable living trust is sometimes prepared as a substitute for a will. Revocable Living Trusts avoid probate. It is recommended, when the individual drafts a Revocable Living Trust that they also draft a pour over will to go with it. A pour over will is designed to distribute assets which are left out of the Revocable Living Trust.
A Power of Attorney is drafted by an individual who is referred to as the principal. The principal appoints someone who deals with financial issues such as paying bills, if he or she becomes incapable of dealing with these financial issues. The Power of Attorney can be drafted in a manner which allows it to stay in effect even in the event the principal becomes incompetent. Powers of Attorney are specifically designed to deal with financial matters and not with medical or health care issues.