When many people draft their Last Will and Testament or Living Trust, they often don’t take into account any of the supplemental legal documents that bolster their wishes and ensure specific plans are carried out. These are often called ancillary documents for estate planning. Below is a list of all the types of ancillary documents and their purpose. If you already have drafted a Will or Trust or are planning to draft a Will or Trust, make sure you have not left out of your planning any important ancillary documents needed for your situation.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to make financial decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. If you become incapacitated, the person you name can take care of financial matters for you. The power of attorney may be general or limited. A general power of attorney will allow the person you name to do anything financial on your behalf. This authority should be only given to someone who you would trust with everything you own. A limited power of attorney can be limited to certain transactions. It is usually used for selling a house.
However, be advised that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get banks or investment firms to recognize a power of attorney. There is nothing under Texas law that requires an institution to accept a power of attorney.
Medical Power of Attorney
A Healthcare Power of Attorney or Medical Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions for you, if you become too ill or incompetent to make decisions for yourself.
Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates
Directive to Physicians are sometimes called “living wills.” The Directive tells the doctor whether you want life-sustaining procedures withheld or stopped in the event there is a terminal or irreversible condition. You can specify in the Directive that you want life-sustaining procedures continued even if you have a terminal or irreversible condition.
DNR stands for “Do Not Resuscitate.” A DNR tells the medical personnel that you don’t want CPR or artificial ventilation or to generally be resuscitated under any circumstances. A DNR must be signed by a physician and two witnesses.
An Organ Donation Form allows you to specify what organs you want to donate and for what purposes.
Emergency Document Card
An Emergency Document Card allows healthcare personnel access to your medical documents in the event of an emergency.
Authorization for Release of Medical Information
An Authorization for Release of Medical Information or HIPAA authorization allows you to specify who has access to your private medical information.
Declaration of Guardian
A Declaration of Guardian allows you to specify who will act as guardian of your estate and/or person in the event you become incompetent. You can also specify who you do not want to become guardian under any circumstances. Guardian of the Estate manages your assets and guardian of the person makes medical decisions and other decisions that do not involve finances.