Advance Directive

Is my living will still valid?

Living wills have been around for a long time, but most people were very careless about creating or maintaining these essential documents. That changed in 2005 due to the highly publicized Terry Schiavo case. Since that time, many people have created living wills - often through forms they've been given by friends, their church, or that they've found online. If you have a living will made through any of these forms, and something happens to you, the hospital caring for you (and if necessary, the courts) WILL try to honor the wishes expressed in those documents. 

But you shouldn't have a living will at all. 

Do I need an estate plan?

In short - yes. Some people think an estate plan means an intricate series of intricate trusts and closely held corporations used for tax avoidance. While that can be part of an estate plan, that's not what most people need - if you and your spouse's total assets are worth less than $10.9 (2016) million, you won't need anything like that to avoid paying estate taxes. 

For most people, an estate plan consists of 3 documents - a will, a financial power of attorney, and an advance directive.