Summer Plans.

Summer Plans

Summer is here, and you have made or are making some big plans to enjoy the benefits of summer.  We all hope to enjoy the summer without experiencing the unfortunate risks that travelling brings.  

Have you taken the time to sure up your estate plan before travelling?  If not, let us help you get it done before you leave.  Call us at (877) 622-5840 today to make an appointment or see if our digital solutions might be a good fit.

The following educational document descriptions will help you understand the significance of properly planning before you travel.

Last Will and Testament

Your Last Will and Testament tells the court who should be responsible for making sure that your plan is executed like you want.  This person is called the “Executor.”  The Executor identifies all of the assets and debts of the estate. Once everything is identified, the debts must be paid, and the assets must be distributed.

If you have minor children, your Last Will and Testament tells the court who should be appointed as the children’s guardian. When you appoint a guardian in the Will, you and your family will save money and time spent in court.

The contingent trust provision allows you to create a trust upon your death to allow another person to manage your assets that would otherwise immediately be available to a beneficiary.

Durable Power of Attorney

This document allows you choose a person, or people, to make financial decisions for you when you are unable or unavailable to make decisions.  The person (or persons) you name is called an “Agent.” Your Agent has a great deal of power to act in your stead.  Essentially, they stand in your shoes and act as if you were taking the action.

For example, if you were involved in a terrible accident and were unable to pay your normal recurring bills, your Agent could do that on your behalf with your funds.  Depending on the powers and authority you grant your Agent, your agent could buy or sell real estate, acquire other assets, open or close bank accounts, make donations, and many other actions.  The Durable Power of Attorney is a very powerful document.  You should take great care in naming an Agent.

If you want more than one person to have this ability, you can choose an alternate person or people in case the first person is unable to care for you.

You also have the ability to decide when your Agent receives this authority.  You can empower your Agent immediately upon signing the document, or you can delay the empowerment of your Agent until you are declared incapacitated by one or more doctors.  If your Agent has the power and authority to act immediately upon the signing of the document, He or she can take actions whether you are capable or not.  If you choose to delay empowering your Agent until incapacity, your Agent cannot act in your stead until one or more doctors decide you are incapable to act.

Medical Power of Attorney

You choose the person, or people, to make medical decision for you when you are unable to make those decisions yourself.  The person you choose is called your “Agent.” This document is different from the Durable Power of Attorney because it only applies to medical decisions.  For example, you choose who can tell the doctor that you do or do not want a certain type of treatment.

It is best to choose more than one person for this document because the doctor will go down the list in order to find someone that can make decisions for you.

Advanced Medical Directive

Your Advanced Medical Directive, also known as a Living Will, allows you to tell the doctor if you want invasive life support.  However, you should understand that either decision still allows for regular treatment and pain management to continue.

None of us want to have anyone we love encounter the need for life support.  The need to choose whether a loved one should be “hooked up” to life support would be an extremely difficult situation.  The Advanced Medical Directive takes the burden off family members by dictating what you want concerning invasive life support.  For example, if you choose not to have invasive life support, you would not be given invasive nutrition and hydration.

HIPAA Release

A HIPAA Release informs the medical staff of the people you wish to be able to know your medical information.  Loved ones who call into the hospital to check on you will likely be told nothing without a HIPAA Release.  Federal law prohibits the releases of medical information about you unless you have authorized them, in writing, to disclose information to specific people.

The people that you name on this document cannot make any medical decisions for you; they can only receive information about your medical condition.  This document will allow the people who care about you to communicate with the medical staff as to your condition and care.

Declaration of Guardian

A Declaration of Guardian allows you to choose who you would want to care for you and your financial affairs if you ever need a guardian over you.  This document typically applies only in the worst case scenario.  For example, the effects of dementia could cause an adult to be unable to manage his or her own life and would need a guardian.  Guardianship for adults is very similar to a guardianship of a parent over a child.

You choose the person to care for your health, safety, and welfare.  This is called Guardian of the Person.  This person must make sure that you are receiving the necessary medical care, live in a safe environment, are getting the proper nutrition, and getting the proper personal care.

Additionally, you choose the person to care for your finances.  This person must make sure that your financial obligations are met.  For example, managing your money and paying your bills. The guardian of your estate can be the same person who is the guardian of your person.  You can also name different people for each role, one for your guardian of your person and another for your guardian of your estate.

Your guardian of your person and your estate have much broader authority than the Agents you name under a Medical Power of Attorney or a Durable Power of Attorney.

Appointment of Guardian for Minor Children

Your Appointment of Guardian for Minor Children will name a guardian, either an individual or a married couple, to care for your children.  It is important to know that the default guardians for a child are the parents.  However, you can contest this default appointment with the court.

There are circumstances where you are still alive but unable to care for your child.  This document allows you to name who you would like the court to consider as the guardian for your children.  The court will always consider what would be in the best interest of the child.


The Grenier Law Firm believes that education is an important part of top-quality legal services.  The excerpts and posts on this site are for educational purposes only.  We want to keep educational materials available here for you. However, you must understand that providing these excerpts and posts should not be construed as legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship between you as the reader and our authors.  Because these excerpts and posts are intended as informational, you should always seek out the appropriate legal advice before acting or not acting based on what you read here.

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