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Financial Documents

Joint Ownership

Durable Power of Attorney

Living Trust

What does it do?

Enables you to own property jointly with another person

Authorizes someone to handle legal and financial decisions if you become incapacitated

Holds your belongings until your death

Can it authorize someone to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to communicate?

Generally, no

Yes

Generally, no

Can it specify how you want your belongings transferred after your death?

Yes, but only those belongings owned jointly

Generally, no

Yes

Is it private?

Yes

Yes

Yes

When does it go into effect?

As soon as joint ownership is recorded

Either immediately or upon a specific trigger event (such as your incapacity)

When the document is signed and the trust is funded

Does it require court involvement?

No

No

No

Healthcare Documents

Living Will

Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney for Healthcare

What does it do?

Provides specific instructions about medical care and artificial life support

Authorizes someone to handle legal and financial decisions on your behalf

Authorizes someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf

Can it outline your medical wishes if you are unable to communicate?

Yes

Generally, no

Not generally, but it does authorize someone to make medical decisions on your behalf

Can it authorize someone to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to communicate?

Generally, no

Yes

Generally, no

Duration

No expiration; can be revised or revoked at any time

Depends on specifics in the document; can be revised or revoked at any time

Depends on specifics in the document; can be revoked or revised at any time

Is it private?

Yes

Yes

Yes

When does it go into effect?

Upon your incapacity

Either immediately or upon a specific trigger event (such as your incapacity)

Either immediately or upon a specific trigger event (such as your incapacity)

Note: Power of attorney laws can vary from state to state. An estate strategy that includes trusts may involve a complex web of tax rules and regulations. Consider working with a knowledgeable estate management professional before implementing such strategies.

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