Revocable Living Trust
A Revocable Living Trust is a legal document that basically replaces a simple Will. By titling assets into the name of a Revocable Living Trust, probate may be avoided. The Trust allows you to name Successor Trustees to distribute your assets upon your death in a timely manner and allows the Successor Trustee to care for you and handle your affairs should you become incapacitated. Many people are under the misconception that they need to have a large estate to create a Revocable Living Trust - this is not true. Certain types of Revocable Living Trusts can be created to help minimize estate tax as well.
Wills are legal documents that advise the probate court how to distribute your estate and to assist in the payment of creditor claims. The Will needs to be deposited with the County Clerk's office within ten (10) days of the date of your death and become public record. Unfortunately, it is not difficult for unhappy heirs to contest Wills. In many cases, a simple Will is just not sufficient to pass your estate to your heirs without undue hardship and expense and a Revocable Living Trust may be advised instead.
Probate is the legal court proceeding that transfers the assets from the estate to the legal heirs. Creditor claims must be accounted for. Probate is a long process and is quite expensive. Probate can be avoided in most cases by executing a Revocable Living Trust.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint "agents" (people you trust, could be a family member or a close friend) to act on your behalf when you are not available to handle matters of a financial nature.
Health Care Surrogate
A Designation of Health Care Surrogate is a written legal document that allows you to appoint one or more people to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are not able to do so for yourself. A new law went into effect October of 2015 that allows you to add health care surrogates for your minor children in the event you are unable to be there to make medical decisions for them. Additionally, when kids turn 18, they are now legal adults in the eyes of the law and should execute their own Designation of Health Care Surrogate - they assume their parents can still make their medical decisions and in many cases, that is not the case.