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During times of uncertainty many individuals find it important to update and add to their legal documents. Having all the necessary documents in place can help reduce the stress on families, especially in these challenging times.  

A few of the important personal healthcare documents are listed below. An estate planning attorney can advise on which documents would be appropriate for you and your family.

Living Will – a written statement detailing a person's desires regarding their medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to express informed consent.

Health Care Power of Attorney - a document with which a patient appoints an agent to legally make healthcare decisions on behalf of the patient (when the patient is incapable of making and executing the healthcare decisions stipulated in the document). Once the healthcare power of attorney is in effect, the agent may, depending on the terms of the document, continue making healthcare decisions as long as the primary individual is legally incompetent to make decisions.

HIPAA release form - a signed HIPAA release form must be obtained from a patient before their protected health information can be shared with other individuals or organizations, except in the case of routine disclosures for treatment, payment, or healthcare operations permitted by the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) - a Do Not Resuscitate order (DNR) is a medically related document that instructs medical personnel to cease performing life-sustaining treatment such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), endotracheal intubation, and defibrillation.

Make sure these documents reflect your desires and wishes. The person you name as agent, for example, should be mentally and physically fit to make the necessary decisions if needed. Also, having a backup or successor agent named in your documents helps to ensure that someone of your choosing is available to serve if or when the time comes. Regardless of who you choose, be sure to communicate with the person(s) you have named and let them know where to find original versions and/or copies of your documents.

In addition to the healthcare documents listed above, an estate plan can include a revocable or living trust.

Revocable or Living Trust - In a revocable or living trust, the trust creator (or grantor) retains rights over the trust, including the ability to change or revoke the trust at any time. Under a revocable trust, the grantor is typically named as the primary beneficiary during his or her lifetime.

In fact, the grantor may even act as his or her own trustee or designate another as trustee. Sometimes, a grantor will choose to name a corporate trustee during his or her lifetime so that he or she can see firsthand the administration of the trust and build a relationship with the trustee.

It is important to note that a revocable trust can create a plan for incapacity. In the trust document, the grantor explains who will administer the trust and manage the financial affairs in the event of incapacity—ensuring that administration and management of the trust's assets and property will continue according to the grantor's wishes. 

At death, a revocable trust may allow you to avoid probate. Bypassing probate can be beneficial—usually saving the estate money in legal fees and protecting the privacy of the deceased.

If you are interested in setting up a revocable trust for yourself, consult an estate planning attorney for personalized planning. In addition to the applicable healthcare documents, a complete estate plan includes documents such as:

 Revocable Trust and/or Last Will and Testament

 Durable Financial Power of Attorney (asset and financial management decision-making)

Cumberland Trust has a dedicated trust administration team to support our senior clients and their families. Our team members have the experience and compassion needed to provide extra assistance to those clients who may need it, and to support families through life's transitions. We collaborate with your accountant, estate planning attorney, and financial advisor to help guide the wealth transfer process, and to follow the plan you have put in place.

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Call or email Jean Jackson for more information and/or to arrange an office visit: 423-664-9747 or jjackson@cumberlandtrust.com. Visit our website (www.cumberlandtrust.com) to learn more about Cumberland Trust's services, our teams, and general information about trust and estate administration.
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