How Family Revocable Trusts Enhance Estate Planning Alongside Living Wills and Healthcare Directives
It’s never too early to start planning for your future. While it can feel daunting and even scary, creating an estate plan to prepare for your incapacity or death is crucial to safeguarding your assets and ensuring your healthcare preferences are respected.
Whether you are looking to update and enhance an existing estate plan or just getting started, the Las Vegas, NV, estate planning attorneys at Mills & Anderson are here to help. Use our guide below to learn more about revocable trusts, living wills, and healthcare directives and how these estate planning strategies can be used to protect yourself and your family for years to come.
Estate Planning Strategies with Trusts and Directives
According to a 2022 survey, only 33% of Americans have some type of estate planning document in place. Unfortunately, this can lead to potential problems and significant stress for your loved ones in the future.
The fact is that creating an estate plan is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from the unexpected. However, before you decide what type of plan works best for you, you should know a few things.
First Things First: What Is a Revocable Trust?
A revocable trust is a type of estate planning document that allows you to name a trustee to oversee the administration of your estate and assets for the benefit of your designated beneficiaries. While most people think of a last will and testament, or a “will” for short, as the primary estate planning document, trusts are also often used as the core document of an individual’s estate plan.
Notably, a revocable trust is primarily used to manage your assets and other property during your lifetime and after you have passed away. However, there are certain things that a trust does not cover that are nevertheless critical to address in a comprehensive estate plan.
Living Wills and Healthcare Directives in Estate Planning
Revocable trusts generally do not cover an individual’s healthcare preferences if they become incapacitated and cannot voice these decisions themselves. This is where living wills and healthcare directives come into play.
A living will is a legal document that allows an individual to specify in advance certain healthcare preferences and treatment choices, including decisions regarding the use of:
- Life-support measures,
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR),
- Organ and tissue donations, and
- Artificial nutrition and hydration.
One of the primary purposes of a living will is to help provide healthcare providers and loved ones with clear guidance on someone’s wishes if they cannot do so themselves while they are still alive.
Similarly, a healthcare directive provides essential information about someone’s healthcare if they become incapacitated. This type of document allows the individual to designate an agent with the authority to make medical decisions on the individual’s behalf. Designating a healthcare agent, sometimes called a healthcare proxy or healthcare attorney-in-fact, can help remove confusion and prevent potential disputes about who has the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf.
Using a Revocable Trust in Conjunction with Living Wills and Healthcare Directives
Of course, you are not required to have any estate plan in place, and even if you do, no estate plan is required to have a revocable trust along with a living will and healthcare directive. However, having just a living will and healthcare directives without a trust (or other core documents such as a will) can leave significant gaps in your estate plan.
While living wills and healthcare directives are great solutions for incapacity planning and can address critical healthcare decisions and appointments, having a revocable trust is an equally valuable tool for asset management and financial planning. Having all of these documents is critical to creating a comprehensive and effective estate plan.
Mills & Anderson: Estate Management Attorneys You Can Trust
When preparing for your future, it’s important to put your estate plan in the hands of someone you can trust. At Mills & Anderson, we hope that you’ll put your trust in us.
Our attorneys have over 50 years of collective practice helping our clients in the State of Nevada. We understand that no two cases are the same, which is why we pride ourselves on providing each client with an individually tailored strategy and approach to best meet their needs.
When you’re ready to start planning for your future, call us. Let’s discuss your estate planning needs and goals and see how we can help you move forward today.
Are Living Wills and Healthcare Directives the Same Thing?
In Nevada, the terms Living Will and Healthcare Directive are often used interchangeably, and the purpose of both can be fulfilled by a single document, known as a Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions. This document allows an individual to specify certain healthcare decisions and preferences in advance, and also allows an individual to designate an agent to make certain medical and healthcare decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated and cannot make such decisions on their own.
Do I Have to Incorporate Living Wills and Healthcare Directives into My Estate Plan?
No, an individual has no legal requirement to have a living will or healthcare directive as part of their estate plan. You are not required to have any estate plan at all. Nevertheless, having a comprehensive estate plan with a living will and healthcare directive is strongly recommended to help you prepare yourself and your loved ones for the unexpected.
What Happens If I Become Incapacitated Without a Living Will or Healthcare Directive in Place?
Becoming incapacitated without a valid living will or healthcare directive can lead to uncertainty and several complications. For example, without a living will, family members or other loved ones may be put in a position of making certain medical decisions on your behalf without knowing your precise wishes, which could result in medical treatment that may not align with your desires. Thus, making your wishes known through a living will or healthcare directive ahead of time is strongly recommended.