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What Documents Should I Consider When Creating an Estate Plan? [Part II]

Weber Law Nov. 25, 2014

This is Part 2 of our two-part article providing an overview of the necessary minimum components of an estate plan.  Every estate plan should be uniquely customized to fit the specific facts and circumstances of an individual’s circumstances, so you should seek legal advice from an experienced Wichita estate planning attorney.

Financial Power of Attorney in Kansas

When people become mentally or physically incapacitated, they typically want someone to manage their financial affairs.  The person designated in a power of attorney can ensure that important financial transactions are completed, such as:

  • Making your mortgage payment

  • Depositing checks into your bank account

  • Paying your monthly bills

  • Monitoring and managing your investments

  • Receiving government and insurance benefits

These are a few examples of the duties that can be delegated to your “attorney-in-fact.”  However, the financial duties delegated under this estate planning device can encompass comprehensive management of your financial affairs, or they can be limited to a single task like signing a specific contract on a designated date.

A durable power of attorney will continue if you become incapacitated but cease to be effective if you pass away.  A durable power of attorney can start when it is executed or become effective on a designated date.  In other cases, this instrument is not made effective until a physician determines that you are incapacitated.  This latter type of durable power of attorney is referred to as a “springing” power of attorney because it springs into existence only after you are incapacitated.

HIPPA Waiver

The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) regulates how a medical facility can use your Protected Health Information (PHI).  PHI refers to information about a patient’s demographic data, diagnosis and treatments.  The law generally restricts disclosure of such information except to insurance companies and medical personnel.  While this law provides a valuable protection of your privacy rights, it can be a hindrance if you need a family member to contact your health insurance company or talk about your situation with your doctor.  A HIPPA waiver allows the person you designate to obtain access to this information.

Can I Use Prepared Forms or Online Preparation Services for My Estate Plan?

Although a cottage industry of DIY legal software and books have emerged along with so-called document preparation services, these are risky methods for preparing an estate plan.  The most basic reason this is a bad idea is because you will not have the benefit of legal advice from an attorney with a comprehensive understanding of probate laws, tax laws, property law and other areas of law that dictate the best estate plan to fit your situation.  The key is that this type of process is indeed about planning for the future not the rote completion of pre-printed forms.

Another reason you need a knowledgeable Wichita estate planning attorney is that pre-printed forms may not comply with the legal requirements in your state.  When you use an invalid estate planning tool, a court might find the document is not valid, which can frustrate your intentions.  Further, estate planning documents need to be customize to fit your unique facts and circumstances.  When you rely on boilerplate forms, the results might not be consistent with your plans and wishes.

Because every situation is unique, we invite you to contact us if you have specific questions.  We invite you to call us or submit an inquiry form through this website to schedule your initial consultation.