Basic Estate Planning

Person writing on paper

Basic Estate Planning consists of:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Living Will Directive and Health Care Surrogate Designation

Last Will and Testament

A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that communicates a person’s final wishes pertaining to distribution of their assets at the time of their death. In this document, you can also name a Guardian if you have any minor children upon your passing. Without a Last Will and Testament, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Kentucky Revised Statutes, wherein your spouse is 4th in line to inherit, after your children, parents and siblings. Furthermore, if you have minor children when you pass, but do not have a Last Will and Testament, you will have no say in who will become Guardian over your children. Lastly, you will name an individual in this document who will administer your estate, known as the Executor. Your Last Will and Testament can be changed at any time (so long as you are still competent) by either creating a Codicil, wherein only minor changes are required for your Last Will and Testament, or by creating a completely new Last Will and Testament. Keep in mind that upon your passing, your named Executor must present the Last Will and Testament to the Probate Court for validation and recording before your Executor can begin the estate administration process.

Durable Power of Attorney

A legal document in which you name an individual or entity to act as your agent and attorney on your behalf should you be unable to do so in the future, a Durable Power of Attorney carries on until your death and is not affected in any manner by future illness, disability, physical, or mental incapacity of any kind.

A Durable Power of Attorney allows your agent and attorney to act on your behalf in the following areas:

  • The purchase or selling of real, personal, or mixed property; including the execution of any necessary contracts, mortgages, deeds, etc. 
  • The preparation of any and all federal, state, and local income or other tax returns.
  • The ability to receive or deposit funds, make investments and transfers to your accounts at any bank, brokerage house, or other financial institution; to deposit, withdraw, or remove any contents from a safe deposit box; as well as purchase or sell any US Treasury Securities or US Bonds.
  • The purchase, sale, assignment, transfer, or set over any and all shares of stock and certificates with companies, corporations, associations, or organizations; including the receipt and endorsement of any dividends checks associated therein.
  • The institution or defense of any lawsuit, either at the local, state, or federal level; including negotiation, arbitration, or acceptance of settlement in said lawsuit.
  • The admittance into a hospital or personal care facility and utilization of funds to pay for the same.

Any clause distinctly not limiting the powers of the agent and attorney in fact, but allowing them full, complete, universal and general power of attorney with reference to any and all matters and affairs of whatever kind or nature, and to any and all property, real, personal or mixed, which you may now own or have an interest or may hereafter acquire.

Living Will Directive and Health Care Surrogate Designation

A Living Will is a legal document which gives you the opportunity to state your wishes regarding life-prolonging treatment as well as artificially provided nutrition and hydration if or when you no longer have decision-making capacity, have a terminal condition, and become permanently unconscious with no hope of recovery, as determined by your attending physician and an additional physician. Only taking effect when you are terminally ill or in an irreversible state, it becomes your voice in decision-making as it relates to your medical care. You can direct that treatment be withheld or withdrawn and that you be allowed to die naturally with only the administration of medication for the relief of pain or the performance of any medical treatment deemed necessary to alleviate pain once you have reached a terminal or irreversible condition, as well as the withholding or withdrawal of artificially provided food, water, or other artificially provided nourishments or fluids, if you so desire. The directives you set forth in the Living Will are carried out by a Healthcare Surrogate.