Consider this thoughtful gift for your spouse or partner: a completed will and other essential estate planning documents, such as a Financial Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Medical Directive, and HIPPA Release Form. I know it doesn’t seem romantic, but getting your estate documents in order is a considerate gift that will relieve your spouse or partner in a time of crisis and grief, as well as insure that your wishes are followed. Here are the basic documents you should draft and execute, with assistance of an experienced attorney:
A Will gives you, as opposed to your state’s intestacy laws, the opportunity to control distribution of your property at the time of your death. You can amend or revoke your will at any time prior to death, so it’s best to draw up one now and review it every five years to insure that it still reflects your intentions.
A Financial Power of Attorney appoints those that you trust to handle your financial affairs and specifies which areas you allow the individual to assist you. There are two types: Immediate and springing. An immediate or durable power of attorney allows your agent to immediately act on your behalf. A springing power of attorney goes into effect only when you are incapacitated.
A Medical Power of Attorney appoints those you trust to make your health care decisions if you are incapable of making them yourself. The Medical Directive documents your desires as to the types of treatments and tests you would or would not want. These two documents can be combined in one document called the Advanced Health Care Directive. It will be so much easier for your loved ones to follow your wishes regarding health care if you have spelled those wishes out for them in advance in writing.
A HIPPA Release Form will enable those named in your Financial Power of Attorney and Advanced Health Care Directive to have access to healthcare information necessary to handle your health insurance matters when you are not able.
Yes, this gift is more costly than flowers or chocolate, but so valuable. And it is a gift you can give each other.