Wills Trusts
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Handout used at Federal Lodge #1, Free And Accepted Masons, Washington DC

for a presentation on

Prepare Now! - Wills, Trusts, Health Care Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney
presented by Paul M. Bessel on September 26, 2005

Everyone owns something and everyone is going to die. There is no doubt about both of those statements. The only questions are:

1. Many of us will become disabled, mentally and/or physically, before we die: what will happen to us and our possessions during our time of disability?

2. What will happen to us and the things we own when we die?

You do not have to do any planning for your death or disability. The state (or DC) in which you live has laws that will decide what happens if you have not done anything to plan for yourself. The state will decide what happens to you and your possessions regardless of what you might have preferred. This could result in your money or possessions being used to pay strangers appointed to handle your case, or it could result in your property being given to people you don’t want rather than to people you do want to receive it.

If you don’t want to leave this to the state or to chance, you have to plan NOW, and have some legal documents that comply with the laws of your state (or DC):

1. Will and/or Revocable Living Trust

2. Advance Health Directive and/or Durable Health Care Power of Attorney

3. Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters

A Will is a legal document that, when proven (“probated”) requires that your property be given to the people or organizations that you want.

An Advance Health Directive tells doctors and hospitals what type of medical care you want or decline if you are unable to speak for yourself. A Durable Health Care Power of Attorney appoints someone you select to make medical care decisions if you are unable to do so.

A Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters appoints someone to handle your finances and business affairs if you are unable to do that for yourself.

There are legal requirements for all of these documents, and even if you think you only need simple documents it is best for everyone to consult with a lawyer who is knowledgeable about this subject. It is better to spend a relatively small fee to insure that what you want done in the future will be done, based on legally valid documents prepared by a lawyer and signed by you. Below are some places to find information about Wills, Trusts, Advance Health Directives, and Durable Powers of Attorney.

Important!: No one should rely on any of the information on any of these websites, or in any books, to attempt to be his own lawyer. Even the best websites or books cannot give you all the information you need to avoid legal pitfalls that could result in disastrous consequences for you or your loved ones.

In general:

ABA (American Bar Association) Commission on Law and Aging
http://www.abanet.org/aging  & http://www.abanet.org/aging/toolkit/home.html

AARP Estate Planning information
http://www.aarp.org/money/financial_planning/estate_planning/

Financial Powers of Attorney
http://www.medlawplus.com/library/legal/durablepowerofattorney.htm

General Information about Wills and Trusts
http://www.alllaw.com/topics/wills_and_trusts/

If your domicile (legal residence) is Maryland:

Attorney General’s Guide to Maryland Law on Health Care Decisions (Forms Included)
http://www.oag.state.md.us/Healthpol/adirective.pdf

Financial Durable Power of Attorney
http://www.medlawplus.com/library/legal/states/maryland.tpl?page=poa

If your domicile (legal residence) is Virginia:

Virginia Advance Medical Directive
http://www.aging.state.va.us/amdrctv.htm

Financial Durable Power of Attorney
http://www.medlawplus.com/library/legal/states/virginia.tpl?page=poa

If your domicile (legal residence) is the District of Columbia:

District of Columbia Power of Attorney for Health Care
http://www.finance.cch.com/tools/downloads/dcpoa(health).rtf

Financial Durable Power of Attorney
http://www.medlawplus.com/library/legal/states/dc.tpl?page=poa


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