This article was published in Pioneer Valley's Live Well magazine, Spring, 2014.

I recommend that every person of age 18 or older have in place what I call "The Big Five + 1".  The Big Five are the will, durable power of attorney, health care proxy, HIPAA Release, and advance directive.  Each one of these documents has its own job so that Court can be avoided.  Four out of the five documents are important during your lifetime if you lose your health or mental capacity.   The "+1" is the homestead.  The homestead declaration protects the home you own and live in from being sold to pay a judgment by unsecured creditors.  This article explains the job of each document.              

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Anyone over 18 years of age needs a will.  Even if a person has few assets, significant sums of money could be due that person’s Estate after death, such as life insurance proceeds (without a named beneficiary) or a settlement from a wrongful death claim. 

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A POWERFUL DOCUMENT IF DONE CORRECTLY.

The person who signs a Durable Power of Attorney (DPA) is the “principal."  The DPA contains a comprehensive list of powers.  When the principal signs the DPA, he or she is granting the appointed agent the authority to exercise any one or more of the listed powers, if appropriate.  It becomes necessary in the event the principal becomes unable to understand what he or she is signing.  I recommend that the DPA be immediately effective; and, that the agent have the authority to gift to him or her self, as discussed in this article.

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Each type of Trust explained.

Trusts are an amazing, flexible tool in estate planning!  Do you need a trust?  Read more in Attorney Jackson’s recent article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Live Well Spring 2016 edition.

 

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