Home » Blog » What is the Most Important Document in an Estate Plan?
What is the Most Important Document in an Estate Plan?

What is the Most Important Document in an Estate Plan?

Troy Werner and his family

Written by Troy Werner

Troy Werner has been an indispensable asset to The Werner Law Firm since joining in 2009, providing exceptional legal service to its clients.

Get To Know Troy!
POSTED ON: March 8, 2024

The most important part of your estate plan isn’t about taxes, investments, gifts, or other financial issues.

The priority of every estate plan, regardless of your age, is the medical care documentation. Even while making decisions on other aspects of your estate plan, says this article from Forbes, “Be Sure You Have The Most Important Document In Every Estate Plan,” you should get these documents done to protect your care and comfort for the rest of your life.

Some of the document’s names may vary from state to state. However, your estate planning attorney will know which ones you need.

HIPAA Authorization. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 protects patient privacy but also makes it illegal for people you don’t authorize in writing to gain information about your medical status. You’ll need a document authorizing medical providers to discuss your situation with key people in your life. Once the document is executed, distribute copies to medical care providers and the people named in the document.

Living Wills and Advance Directives. Living wills were once simple statements, stating, “If I have a terminal condition and there’s no hope of recovery, don’t prolong my life by artificial means.”  These statements are now considered obsolete. Medical science has advanced to a point where it cannot be said with certainty whether someone may improve. There are also disagreements about whether some types of care, like the use of a ventilator, should be considered artificial life support or essential to helping a patient recover from a serious illness.

To address this, some estate planning attorneys create detailed custom living wills, using questionnaires with different scenarios so their clients can decide in any of the situations. Of course, you can’t anticipate every situation, and there can be differences of opinion about diagnosis and prognosis. There are instances where medical providers aren’t given the documents until after treatment has been administered. However, it’s better to express your wishes proactively.

Healthcare Power of Attorney. The limits of living wills and advance directives have led some estate planning attorneys to replace or supplement them with a healthcare power of attorney or healthcare proxy. The HPOA gives one or more people—known as your agents—the authority to make medical decisions if you cannot. The agents talk with your healthcare providers to understand your situation and options. They then make decisions in tandem with the wishes stated in your living will.

Agents need to be available, so you’ll want to name people who are nearby. Appointing more than one agent can provide flexibility in an emergency.

Do Not Resuscitate/Hospitalize. It’s common for older, frail patients to decide they don’t want to be resuscitated or hospitalized. For example, CPR is often declined because while it may bring a person back to life momentarily, their eventual passing may become violent rather than peaceful. The thinking behind DNR orders is this: at some point, hospitalization or treatment for every new ailment only briefly extends life without improving its quality and could reduce the person’s quality of life. Make sure a DNR/DNH is easily accessible to first responders, give medical providers a copy, and consider having a bracelet or necklace with these letters.

Once all these documents are executed and circulated, it will be time to focus on distributing property and protecting assets.

If you need help creating a complete and comprehensive estate plan, or if you are dealing with a probate case, we can assist you. Contact The Werner Law Firm probate lawyers for a free consultation!

If you have any questions, schedule a free appointment with us through our online appointment page.

You can also read reviews from some of the hundreds of clients we have helped over the years.

Reference: Forbes (Jan. 22, 2024) “Be Sure You Have The Most Important Document In Every Estate Plan”

Share This Post

Why Our Living Trust Law Firm & Probate Attorneys?

Founded in 1975 by L. Rob Werner and serving California for over 48 years, our dedicated attorneys are available for clients, friends, and family members to receive the legal help they need and deserve. You can trust in our experience and reputation to help navigate you through your unique legal matters.

Whether you need help creating a living trust or navigating probate, our living trust law firm's compassionate team of estate planning lawyers and probate lawyers are here to help you and ready to answer your questions.

Our goal is to make your case as easy as possible for you. Hiring a lawyer can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. From the moment you contact our firm, through the final resolution of your case, our goal is to make the process easy and understandable. We cannot change the fact that probate is a long and complicated process, but through our Werner Law Firm Difference, we strive to go out of our way to keep you informed of your case through every step of the way. We are constantly refining our processes and procedures for a more streamlined and calm client experience. Our goal is to have you feel like a burden was lifted from your shoulders, and that we made the whole process an easy one

If you're dealing with a legal matter, we urge you to schedule a free initial appointment today and join the many satisfied clients who have contacted Werner Law Firm.

Book an Initial Call Now

Join Our eNewsletter and our California Estate Planning and Probate Blog Digest

Werner Law Firm logo
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. See full disclaimer here.
Santa Clarita, CA Office

27433 Tourney Rd, Suite 200
Santa Clarita, California 91355

Los Angeles, CA Office

445 S. Figueroa St., Suite 3100
Los Angeles, California 90071

Bakersfield, CA Office

4900 California Ave, Tower B-210
Bakersfield, California 93309

Newport Beach, CA Office

23 Corporate Plaza Dr., Suite 150
Newport Beach, California 92660

Lancaster, CA Office

626 W Lancaster Blvd.,
Lancaster, California 93534

Pasadena, CA Office

35 North Lake Avenue, Suite 710
Pasadena, California 91101

Simi Valley, CA Office

2655 First St, Suite 250
Simi Valley, CA Office, California 93065

Encino, CA Office

15760 Ventura Blvd, Suite 700
Encino, California 91436

Oxnard, CA Office

300 E Esplanade Dr., 9th Floor
Oxnard, California 93036

Santa Barbara, CA Office

7 W. Figueroa St., Suite 200
Santa Barbara, California 93101

IMS - Estate Planning and Elder Law Practice Growth Advisors
Powered by