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When it comes to estate planning, the will leads the way … or does it?

If you've been reading up on this topic, you know that a will is an important document that helps distribute your assets when you pass away. But have you considered what would happen if you didn't have one? That's right—if you don't have a will, then the law (or attorneys assuming power of attorney!) will decide how your estate and assets are distributed based on where you live and other factors. This can lead to less-than-ideal results for your loved ones, so it's important to have a plan in place before it's too late! But more than your will, your legacy needs a plan that allows your life’s experience, wisdom and intellectual capital to also come forward so all of your knowledge is not lost.

If you're looking for some guidance around getting started with legacy planning©, book a discovery consultation with our coaching and advisory firm to talk about how six or twelve months of consulting that be your greatest . They can walk you through all of the details involved in creating a will and more!

The will is an important document, but it's not the only one you need for a successful estate plan. In fact, there are many documents that make up an estate plan. These can include:

-A will

-Power of attorney documents

-Medical power of attorney and living will

-Durable power of attorney for finances

The last two are especially important because they allow someone else to take care of your financial and medical needs if you're unable to do so yourself. The person who takes on this responsibility is called a POA or DPOA (depending on whether they have authority over your finances or just medical decisions). It's important to note that both powers must be granted by separate documents—they can't be included in one document because then they wouldn't be durable!

Make sure you have all these documents in place before something happens to you; otherwise your loved ones might find themselves dealing with some difficult situations.

In recent years, the legal document that has been making headlines is not your typical will. Instead, it's an Advance Directive which allows you to plan for your end-of-life care needs.

What is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is a legal document that helps someone make decisions about their medical treatment when they can't make those decisions themselves due to illness or injury. This includes living wills and do not resuscitate orders (DNRs).

What does an Advance Directive look like?

The format of an advance directive varies depending on the jurisdiction where it was created, but most will have some version of these common elements: 1) who authored it; 2) date of creation; 3) contact information for any physicians involved; 4) name(s) of person(s) who would make decisions if the author cannot; 5) list of medical conditions that would render someone unable to make decisions; 6) instructions for what should happen in each condition; 7) signature from the author indicating agreement with all contents.

How does an Advance Directive work?

If someone has an advance directive on file at their local hospital then healthcare providers will follow those instructions (e.g., do not resuscitate order). If there isn't one on file then healthcare providers will follow standard procedures for treating patients (e.g., CPR). If someone doesn't have an advance directive on file but has indicated their wishes orally or through other means then healthcare providers will follow those instructions as well (e.g., saying they don't want CPR).

Photo Credit: @kellysikkema

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