Estate planning is not just for the rich and famous. Everyone needs
a plan that specifies how your assets are to be distributed, your
financial responsibilities met, and your health care decisions made.
Estate planning focuses on these three goals:
- An estate plan provides authority to someone else to make medical
decisions for you when you are unable. It also gives that person
instructions regarding the level of care you want.
- An estate plan provides authority for another person to pay
your bills, manage your money, and generally oversee your finances.
- An estate plan specifies how you would like your assets distributed
after your demise. If you fail to implement an estate plan, state
law directs how your assets will be divided.
The Law Office of Diane H. Gold can assist you by preparing individualized
documents that will insure that your wishes are known and carried
out. These documents include a Will, Durable Power of Attorney,
Health Care Proxy, and HIPAA Release. In addition, if your asset
level would result in a federal and/or state estate tax, or you
want greater control of how your assets are distributed, we can
also prepare the appropriate Trusts: Revocable Trusts, Irrevocable
Trusts, and Supplemental and Special Needs Trusts.
Following is a description of the documents needed to insure that
your wishes are known and carried out:
Your Will is the document in which you specify how you want your
property and assets to be distributed. It nominates the person (the
Executor) that you would like to be in charge of implementation
of your Will. It is also important to name a successor Executor
in the event that your Executor is unable or unwilling to serve.
If you have minor children, your Will can specify who you want to
serve as your children’s Guardian.
We encourage you to not only include your wishes in your Will, but
to discuss your wishes with your family members.
It is important that your Executor have certain powers so that he
or she can effectively and efficiently distribute your assets, sell
any property that needs to be sold, pay any taxes or other bills
that may be due, and close your estate. We work with you to make
sure that your executor has the powers to do what needs to be done.
Durable Power of Attorney
Your Durable Power of Attorney gives authority to another person
(your “Attorney-in-Fact”) to manage your finances and
pay your bills if you are unable to do so. The Durable Power of
Attorney permits access to your bank accounts, investment accounts,
and other monetary assets to take care of you and your needs. Because
it can convey power over your assets to another person, it is important
that it be drafted carefully and with appropriate limits as to the
powers that it conveys. It can be drafted to take effect immediately
upon signing or only upon your incapacity. It can specify the conditions
under which it will be put into effect. It is valid only during
It is important to realize that your Durable Power of Attorney might
not be exercised for many years after the document is signed. As
a result, at The Law Office of Diane H. Gold, we encourage you to
name a successor Attorney-in-Fact in case the primary person you
name is unable or unwilling to serve in this capacity.
Health Care Proxy
A Health Care Proxy gives authority to another person to make medical
decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make your wishes known
to your doctors and other health care professionals. This is the
document that might have spared Terri Schiavo and her family the
pain of the legal battles that ensued following her unexpected illness
The Health Care Proxy allows you to specifywhat medical procedures
you would or would not authorize, but we encourage you to discuss
your particular wishes with all of your family members, not just
the person to whom you give power under your Health Care Proxy.
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
(HIPAA), medical providers are required to keep your personally identifiable
medical information private unless you authorize its release. A HIPAA Release
is a separate document that authorizes your health care providers
to release your medical information to whomever you name. The HIPAA
Release can name more than just your Health Care Proxy as an authorized
recipient of your medical information. This document makes sure
that those who need to know about your medical situation have access
to that information and can then make informed decisions about your