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Definitions & Considerations

BENEFICIARIES The people, organizations or charities who will received property (either particular items, or money) from you after your death.

  • Who do you want as beneficiaries?

SPECIAL BEQUESTS: Gifts of either particular items (such as family heirlooms or collectibles) or certain sums of money to a particular person or organization (such as money gifts to a friend or a charity).

  • Do you want to make any special bequests?

EXECUTOR: Your Executor (sometimes called the Personal Representative) will handle your Estate. He will have to interact with the Probate Court, opening the Estate, notifying heirs and creditors, collecting your assets, filing inventories and reports with the Court, paying bills, dealing with taxes, and finally distributing the Estate according to your wishes.

The people you name as Executor and alternate Executor should be persons who will attend to the details and paperwork promptly, and seek help if necessary. An ability to deal with financial matters and paperwork is a plus, as is some awareness of your assets and financial situation. Don’t appoint someone solely based on relationship (your oldest son, for example, because he is oldest, when your youngest daughter is closer and is better suited for the job.)

You can appoint family members, but are not required to. Other relatives, friends, your accountant, attorney or financial advisor are possible choices. Often each spouse is Executor for the other, although it is not required, but you should name an alternate.

  • Who do you want to be your Executor?
  • Who do you want to be your Alternate Executor?

TRUSTEE: The Trustee will manage your assets in several situations, when you are not able to. The Trustee should be both comfortable and responsible in handling and managing money and investments. The Trustee should also be sensitive your family’s or beneficiary’s needs. Sometimes it is helpful to have 2 people act together as Co-Trustees. Also it can be helpful to have an institution as a Trustee or Co-Trustee.

  • Who do you want to be your Trustee?

GUARDIAN: The Guardian is the person or persons who will actually raise your children until age 18, if you die before then. You should choose someone who is good with your children, and who will raise them the way you want.

  • Who do you want as your Guardian?

AGENT: The person you name as Agent (with a Durable Power of Attorney) will have a “blank check” to deal with all your property, financial matters and business affairs. He will even have authority to make gifts of your property to others and himself. Therefore, the person you select should be someone you trust to manage your assets, and do what is best for you and your family. Usually, your spouse is your first choice, but you should have an alternate.

  • Who do you want as Agent?
  • Who do you want as Alternate?

Durable powers of Attorney come in two basic varieties, ‘effective immediately’ and ‘springing’. The effective immediately is just that, effective now. Your agent can use it to sign documents and transact your business as soon as you sign it and give it to the agent. It is convenient in some situations. The ‘Springing’ power, only becomes effective on the occurrence of a specified event, usually your disability. For a springing power, we need to specify the event and how it will be demonstrated for purposes of the document.

  • Do you want your DPOA effective: immediately or springing?

NOTE: Many people worry that persons they name as Executor, Agent or Trustee will be liable for their debts.They will not become personally liable. They have a responsibility to pay your bills for you, but only from your assets, not theirs.
ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE/HEALTHCARE AGENT: The Healthcare Agent will make medical decisions for you when you can’t. Decisions may be as minor as a dental cleaning, or as major as organ transplants, heart surgery, cancer treatment or even the termination of life support. Your Agent should be able to understand medical explanations and recommendations and make reasoned decisions in your best interest, and according to your wishes.

  • Who do you want for your Healthcare Agent?
  • Who do you want as Alternate Healthcare Agent?

ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE/LIVING WILL: The decision on “terminal care” is difficult. The State Law offers three basic choices:

  1. Keep me alive, no matter what;
  2. Let me die a natural death, but give me water and food through tubes, and keep me comfortable with medication;
  3. Let me die naturally, no tube feeding or water, but keep me comfortable with medication.

You can modify those basics any way you wish.

“Terminal care” means treatment you receive when a doctor certifies that medically it is not likely you will ever regain the ability to think and act for yourself. If you have any questions about “terminal care”, or the type of decisions your Healthcare Agent can make, please discuss them with your doctor. Circle your choice above, or write your own wishes on the back of this sheet.

The new Advance Health Care Directive law allows you to also specify the following:

  • Do you want to specify any medical treatment you do not want or which you definitely want tried?
  • Do you want to be an organ donor?
  • If so, do you want to donate just organs or tissues as well?
  • Do you wish to allow your agent to make decisions about the disposal of your remains?
  • Do you have specific instructions?