Understanding Estate Planning Terms

In Estate Planning by Daniel Friedel

In order to take charge of your health, wealth and ultimately your estate, you should become familiar with the terminology:

Inter Vivos Trust (IVT) – An IVT allows you to maintain possession and control of your property, providing a smooth transfer of authority in the event of incapacity or death.  At such time, your designated co-trustee (often an heir or caretaker) will obtain access to your specified accounts, allowing her to carry-out your obligations without the time and expense of legal proceedings and probate.  YOU determine the property held in the IVT and the event triggering the transfer of control.

Living WillThis document allows you to designate another person authority to sustain, withhold or withdrawal life prolonging procedures in the event you are faced with a terminal condition and are unable to make such decisions for yourself. FL legislation recently expanded the definition of “life prolonging procedures” to include the provision of food and water to terminally ill patients.

Health Care SurrogateAny competent adult may also designate authority to a Health Care Surrogate (HCS), allowing the HSC to make all health care decisions in the event of incapacity.  The HCS will be able to (and has the duty to) consult with your health care providers, give informed consent, and make your health care decisions during incapacity.  A HSC will make decisions according to your explicit wishes or what the HCS believes your wishes would be. In the absence of directives or known wishes, the HCS will make decisions according to what they believe is in your best interest.

Power of AttorneyThis instrument grants another the authority to act as your agent, or your attorney- in-fact, allowing a designee to carry out your transactions if you ever enter into a state of incapacity.