Conservator is a person appointed by the Probate Court to manage another’s finances when an individual cannot make this type of decision because of an illness, injury, or disability.
Durable Power of Attorney
Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) is a legal document in which you authorize individual(s) to manage your financial affairs. The authority passes either as soon as you sign the document (“immediate”), or upon a determination by doctors that you are unable to manage your financial affairs (“springing”). Designate only those individuals you trust. A DPOA is a powerful document and one that may lead to financial exploitation.
Guardian is a person appointed by the Probate Court who is legally responsible for someone who is unable to manage their own affairs, especially an incompetent or disabled person or a child whose parents have died.
Health Care Proxy
Health Care Proxy (HCP) is a legal document in which you designate an individual or agent to make decisions about your medical treatment only if you are unable to do so. Your agent voices your wishes for medical care when you cannot. Any Health Care Proxy executed prior to 1996 does not include a HIPAA release and should be updated.
HIPAA Release and Authorization
HIPAA is intended to protect a patient’s medical information from being disclosed without the patient’s written permission. A HIPAA Release provides written permission for your medical personnel to share your medical information with those individuals you designate. The Release does NOT grant decision-making authority. Any Health Care Proxy executed prior to 1996 does not include a HIPAA release and should be updated.
Homestead seeks to protect you from having to sell your home to satisfy a judgment or creditor’s lien. A Homestead is a document filed with the Registry of Deeds in the County where the real estate is located. The document provides creditor protection of the equity in the home. Such creditor protection does NOT extend to liens imposed by Federal or Massachusetts tax authorities, or MassHealth/Medicaid. An Elder Homestead affords even greater protection to a property owner over the age of 62.
Irrevocable Trust is the type of trust in which the trust terms cannot be modified, amended or terminated without the permission of those named as beneficiaries. The individual who created and funded the trust cannot exert direct control over the irrevocable trust.
Long Term Care Insurance
Long-term care (LTC) insurance is coverage that provides nursing-home care, homehealth care, personal or adult day care for individuals age 65 or older or with a chronic or disabling condition that needs constant supervision. LTC insurance offers more flexibility and options than many public assistance programs.
Medical Directive is sometimes referred to as a “Living Will” and is a statement of a patient’s wishes for medical treatment and end-of-life care. The document is NOT legally binding and instead, serves as guidance to medical personnel of a patient’s wishes.
Personal Representative is the person you designate to sign documents on behalf of your estate and to make sure that your assets are distributed consistent with your Will, if any. A Personal Representative was previously known as an Executor or Administrator.
Release of Electronically Stored Information
Release of Electronically Stored Information allows your attorney-in-fact (under the DPOA) and your Personal Representative (under the Will) legal authority to access your online accounts, retrieve stored information, or close out the online account. The online provider should follow the instruction of your designee.
Revocable Trust is a type of trust in that you can change - revoke - if you are the Grantor, the person who created the trust. During your life, you can transfer assets in and out of the revocable trust. Upon your death, the trust assets remain in trust to be managed by a Trustee. A Revocable Trust provides an individual access to trust assets and the flexibility to respond to unforeseen life events. Compare with Irrevocable Trust.
Will is a legal document which details how your assets will be distributed after your death and who will administer your estate. Without a will, the Court determines how to distribute your estate by intestacy, a formula to determine your next of kin. This may or may not be consistent with your wishes.