FAQ Series: Does having a trust mean my estate avoids probate?

Forest road. Landscape for background

You’ve done your estate plan: you have a will, powers of attorney for finances and health, and a revocable “living” trust. So will your estate avoid probate?


Trusts are commonly used to avoid probate. However, simply having the trust is not enough. Your assets must be held in your trust at the time of your death to avoid probate administration. This means that you need to transfer your home, car, bank and investment accounts, and so on so that they are held by the trustee of your trust, and not by you alone.

(You may be the trustee of your trust; you will still need to transfer the title to your assets to avoid probate.)

There’s an old rule in the English common law (which is where American law comes from) that prohibits dead-hand control: you can’t own things when you’re dead. Once a person dies, the assets that they owned at the time of their death become part of their estate. The estate owns the assets. It’s the transfer of property from the estate to the deceased’s heirs that the probate court oversees.

Probate administration, therefore, transfers the ownership of so-called “probate assets” - assets you own in your name alone, that don’t pass by beneficiary designation or joint ownership.

A trust works by placing ownership of your assets in the name of your trust, which is not a person and can’t die. The trust owns and manages the assets for the beneficiaries of the trust, whoever those might be: you or, after your death, the people you want to have your property.

When you die, the trust agreement, which governs the management of the trust assets, will determine how the assets are held or distributed.

The typical probate-avoidance trust will have you as the beneficiary during your lifetime; you get to live in the house, access the bank accounts, and generally enjoy the use of your assets. Once you die, the trust will specify the way in which you want the assets to be treated: held for your young children to pay for their education, for example, or distributed outright to your adult children.

It’s important to note that trusts still require administration after your death; there are required notices to beneficiaries, taxes, and procedures that should be followed. However, a trust will generally allow your beneficiaries to do all this in private, without probate court supervision.

Trusts are a flexible tool in the estate planning toolbox and can be used to achieve a variety of goals, from asset protection to probate avoidance. The way your trust should be drafted and funded will depend on your assets and your goals. It’s important to discuss your goals with an estate planning attorney so that they can design the right estate plan for you.

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The Queen Has Already Planned Her Funeral

* Also posted at posteriblog.comthe firm's blog about inheritance law news and history.

The Guardian has a long, fascinating feature out today detailing what happens when the Queen dies. The code words for her death are, apparently, "London Bridge is down," which has a pleasantly sing-songy feel for something so serious. (One might guess that the code words will change after the publication of this article.)

Queen Elizabeth II has sat on the throne since 1952, which makes her the longest-serving monarch in British history. Most Britons don't remember having another monarch and therefore haven't lived through the transition between monarchs.

I was studying in London when the Queen Mother died in 2002, and was able to go down to see the funeral procession as it wound its way from Clarence House around Green Park to Westminster. The regalia was out- I swear I was nearly blinded by the sun shining off the jewels in the crown on the casket- and the pomp was dialed to 11. It was made still more interesting to watch by the knowledge that they relevant parties had been practicing the Q.M.'s funeral for years as she slept. (Imagine having the guards practicing your funeral procession literally outside your bedroom window as you sleep! Not very restful, I'd think.)

True to form, the palace has a plan for the Queen's death, and it is significantly more complicated than what the average person might need to plan. But there's a purpose to the planning: when someone dies (particularly when that someone has such national political importance) it's nice to know what you've got to do. Who's in charge? What are the services? Who gets what?

In the Queen's case, much of this is regulated by law (Charles will be king the moment she dies, no matter what the supermarket gossip mags speculate) or by tradition. For the average estate planning client, it's not this complicated. But there's still a need for ceremony, however small. For the wake, the funeral, the mercy meal. The notification of friends and family, the placement of the obituary. Big or small, death brings with it a multitude of details that must be dealt with, and knowing what you have to do in advance is a tremendous help in a time of shocked grieving. I hope many take the Queen's example and plan ahead.

Estate Planning Isn’t Just For People Who Own Yachts (So Yes, You Do Need a Will)

It's good to be rich.

“Estate planning” sounds like something for the wealthy- something not worth doing if you rent an apartment, owe money on your car, or don't have much in retirement savings. Many people who own their own home count it as their biggest asset.

But estate planning isn’t just about money. It’s about control. Who will make your medical decisions if you’re incapacitated? Who will pay your bills and manage your money? Who will raise your children and manage their money if you die?

Estate planning applies to everybody, not just the wealthy. It is not just a process that directs the distribution of your assets to your loved ones; it’s a way of protecting yourself while you were still alive.

Think of it this way:

You probably know who you’d want to make your decisions and manage your assets- no matter how much money you have. But have you taken steps to make that happen?

If you do not have a will, power of attorney, or other estate planning documents, your loved ones will not have the legal authority to carry out your wishes- even if they know what you would want.

Getting a basic estate plan is like having an insurance policy. You don’t want to have to use it, but if you are incapacitated or pass away unexpectedly, your loved ones will know what you want and will have the legal power to carry out your wishes. Whether you have an apartment and a life insurance policy through work or a paid-for home and a sizable portfolio, estate planning is a way to ensure that you’re taken care of even when you can’t take care of yourself.

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Four Easy Ways to Avoid Probate

Planning of the working day

People often share with me their fear or dislike of probate- much of the time because they have watched a friend or family member get caught in a long and frustrating probate administration. (For more about probate, see our Probate FAQs.)

Now, I should probably point out up front that I think a trust is the best way to avoid probate. (See "What's the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?".) But that’s not the only way, and I’d like to tell you about some others you can do yourself. *

One of the benefits of avoiding probate is that your beneficiaries have quicker access to the assets you leave them. The probate-avoidance strategies below are the most common. (But be careful- they can’t be changed by will, so you have to be sure.)

1: Update your beneficiary designations.

If you have life insurance policies or retirement accounts such as pensions, 401(k)s, and IRAs, you most likely named beneficiaries to receive those assets when you die. Beneficiary designations are a great way of avoiding probate; those assets will almost immediately be paid out or transferred to the person or persons you’ve named, without any court involvement. But be careful: beneficiary designations can’t be changed in a will, so make sure the people you’ve named are the ones you still want to receive those assets. (Not updating your beneficiaries can lead to unfortunate results.)

2: Transfer-on-death designations.

Transfer-on-death provisions are similar to beneficiary designations, and are often used on bank accounts and other financial instruments. If you have a transfer-on-death provision on your checking account, for example, the person you designate to receive the account can get the account transferred to their ownership after your death by presenting identification and a death certificate. It works very much like a beneficiary designation.

3: Joint ownership with rights of survivorship.

If you co-own assets with rights of survivorship, your co-owner will become the sole owner on your death. (The joint ownership has to come with rights of survivorship; otherwise your portion will pass through your estate.) Be careful with this one- it seems obvious, but once someone is a joint owner of one of your assets, it’s theirs. If it’s a bank account, they can drain it. If they have money problems, the asset is open to their creditors. If their marriage is unstable, the asset will be available to be divided in their divorce. Joint ownership with rights of survivorship is commonly used

4: Funding your trust.

This may seem obvious, but many of my probate estates are opened to take care of assets that were never moved into a trust. If you already have a trust, take the time to make sure that your assets are titled in the trust. If you aren’t sure how, call a lawyer to get some help.

* Disclaimer: What you should do is always going to depend on your particular goals, assets, and family situation. While the strategies listed above will help your assets avoid probate, there are downsides to each and these solutions may not be right for you. (And if you really love disclaimers, there are more on the Site Disclaimer page.)

Digital Death: Planning for Digital Assets


Does your Will say anything about your Facebook account? Your email accounts? Your Pokecoins?

Many people store photos online, have cloud-based collections of books and music, and use cloud storage products like DropBox and Google to store their documents. Some people even have valuable gaming assets or currency online.

What happens to digital assets when you die? Who can access your accounts? What happens to your photos, books, and music? Many people do not realize that although they own the pictures and data in those accounts, the account holder controls access. You’re really just the license holder. (Do you remember all those terms of service agreements you’ve clicked through?)
If you have online property- even if it’s just email accounts and some social media accounts- you probably have a lot of valuable information and memories stored there. If you have online property, you should have a plan.
As more and more people keep more and more information online, this is becoming a real issue in estate administration. Laws in many states (New Hampshire and Massachusetts included) do not grant fiduciaries the authority to access digital accounts as part of the default legal authority granted to fiduciaries; the authority must be specifically granted in your estate planning documents.
This may not seem like a big issue, but it can lead to distressing situations for survivors. They may not be able to access years of accumulated photos. They may not be able to access your email address book to inform your friends and colleagues of your illness or passing. They may even lose access to the apps on a shared iPad.

The law is struggling to adapt to the explosion of online property we’ve all started to accumulate. (Technology develops at a much faster pace than legislation.)

The Uniform Law Commission, an organization that drafts model laws (such as the Uniform Probate Code and Uniform Commercial Code) recently drafted the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which has been adopted by some states and is being considered in many others.  New Hampshire and Massachusetts are both considering adopting this law, but have not done so yet.

So what can you do now? Having updated estate planning documents that authorize your agents and executors to have access to your digital assets is important. You may also wish to keep a list of your digital assets and a list of your wishes- for example, would you want the accounts to be deleted? Do you want your family to have access to all of the pictures? What about your email contacts?

If your agents and executors know what you want and have the authority granted to them in your estate plan, they’ll be well-placed to carry out your wishes. Depending on the asset, you may wish to incorporate it directly into your Will or Power of Attorney.

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Accessing Digital Accounts after Death

Many digital companies have procedures for dealing with account holders who have passed away. (Apple doesn’t as of this writing.) They may also have default modes of freezing accounts- Facebook, for example, "memorializes" the accounts of deceased users so that they can be viewed but not used.

Companies will require documentation (such as a death certificate or court appointment) if you want to do anything with another person’s account or have access to its contents. Even if a company does not have a specific policy, they may be able to help you if you can provide documentation proving death and showing that you have legal authority to deal with the account.

Facebook: Your Digital Legacy

Google: Inactive Account Manager Set Up  (About)

Twitter: Deactivate a deceased person’s account 

Instagram: Report a deceased person’s account

LinkedIn: How to remove a deceased person’s account / Removal Form

WordPress: Deceased User

Dropbox: Access a deceased person’s account

Resolve to Do Your Will in 2017

Many glasses of champagne with Christmas tree background. Party setup. Holiday season background. Traditional red and green Christmas decoration with lights. Holiday party. Horizontal

It’s that time of year again: time to make your New Year’s Resolutions. There’s no shortage of articles out there on the topic: how to keep them, lists of suggested resolutions for work and health and even for online identity protection. You can even find out what the most popular resolution in your state is. (Weight loss in New Hampshire and a healthier lifestyle in Massachusetts, if you’re local and curious.)

Unsurprisingly, weight loss is the most common resolution nationwide (no wonder, after the holidays). But the second?

Getting organized.

There are all sorts of ways people want to get organized: cleaning the house, getting their finances in order, alphabetizing the spices. (Okay, maybe that’s just me.)

But one of those ways is to get a health care power of attorney. To arrange for guardianship of your kids. To get a will and maybe a trust, to organize your financial information.

This whole process is called "estate planning." It sounds daunting, but is really just the process of organizing your financial records, writing down your wishes, and making sure you have the right legal documentation.

Here are five easy ways to get started.

Get organized.

The more you know about what you have and what you want, the easier it will be for your lawyer to draft the right plan for you. Make a list of your bank accounts, retirement and investment accounts, and insurance policies. You should also make a list of your debts, including student loans, mortgages, and any consumer debt. Personal finance websites like Mint.com can help you get started.

Make some decisions.

Who would you want to take care of your children if you couldn’t? Who should make financial or medical decisions for you if you’re incapacitated? You don’t have to have a final choice before scheduling a consultation to have your will done, but it’s helpful to think about it in advance.

Find a lawyer.

I know I’m not totally unbiased here, but there are plenty of reasons paying a lawyer to get your estate plan is money well spent. Estate planning is complicated, and you will probably have a lot of questions. Lawyers are trained to recognize your specific areas of risk and to educate you so that you can make the best decisions for you and your family. Knowledge is power. If you don’t know a lawyer, ask friends if they have one they like. State bar associations also keep lists of lawyers and can refer you to one in your area.

Get at least a basic estate plan.

There are all sorts of complex estate planning techniques out there, but even the most basic plan is better than nothing, and it’s okay to start simple. Get a will, a power of attorney, and some health care planning documents. Make sure that your documents reflect your wishes- you want to control who receives your assets or who has control over them and over you if you’re incapacitated. These documents will save you a lot of money in court and attorney fees if you are incapacitated.

Update your beneficiaries.

The best-drafted will in the world can’t change your beneficiary designations, so make sure that you check to make sure your life insurance, retirement accounts, and other financial assets will be passing to the people you want them to go to.

Update your plan every few years.

Life goes on after you get your estate plan completed. It’s a good idea to check in with your lawyer every few years to make sure your plan still reflects your wishes. Major life changes are also a good time to check in- births, marriages, deaths, divorces, retirement, and moving to another state are all examples of the types of events that should trigger an estate plan review.

If it’s been a few years since you got your estate plan done, make an appointment with lawyer to get your checkup.

Check your will off your list!

Gift Tax Exemptions v. the Medicaid Lookback

You may have heard that you can give your children up to $14,000 each year without penalty. You may also have heard that there is a five-year lookback period when you apply for Medicaid. Though these are both planning issues that might be relevant to you, they are not connected. They’re two separate rules that apply to two separate situations.

Gift Tax Planning

The federal government imposes a tax on gifts that individuals give to others. There is a large exemption: an individual can give $5.46 million (increasing to $5.49 million in 2017) in gifts during their lifetime before they have to pay the tax. 

There is also a yearly exemption- you can give $14,000 every year to as many people as you want without having to inform the IRS of your gift. (So I can give $14,000 to my brother, my sister, and three of my friends, and that's $70,000 I can give away without paying gift tax.) It’s only after the gifts you give total $5.46 million over your lifetime, not including the first $14,000 you give to any person during any year, that you pay the gift tax.

As you can see, not many people end up paying the federal gift tax. Not only are the exemptions large, but certain gifts, such as education and health expenses paid directly to the provider, do not count. You can pay your grandchild’s $50,000 private school tuition, for example, without making any taxable gift. Gifting strategies are generally used to reduce an individual’s estate and gift tax liabilities.

This $14,000 annual exemption is only for gift taxes. It does not have any relevance to Medicaid planning.

Medicaid Planning

If you apply for Medicaid in order to pay for your long-term care (such as a stay in a nursing home), the state Medicaid agency will ask to see five years’ worth of financial records. These records are used as part of your application to determine whether you can afford to pay for your own care. (Medicaid is a welfare program, and there are strict asset and income limits for applicants.) The state Medicaid agencies are looking for evidence that you have moved assets out of your estate in order to make yourself eligible for Medicaid- for example, if you’ve given your child a check for $100,000 soon after receiving a diagnosis that indicates you'll need nursing home care.

If the Medicaid agency determines that you have made gifts out of your estate in order to make yourself eligible for Medicaid, you may have to "cure" that gift- that is, get the recipient to give the asset back. 

This prohibition on moving money out of your estate does not have anything to do with the $14,000 gift tax exclusion amount. You cannot give $14,000 away each year without penalty from Medicaid- with Medicaid applications, each transfer is examined individually. If you’re interested in planning for your long-term care, it’s a good idea to meet with a lawyer to discuss your options and make sure that you aren’t doing anything that will harm you during the Medicaid application process.

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Five Reasons You Should Have an Estate Plan

Getting power of attorney or updating your will are not, I know, always the top items on your to-do list. But I look at having an estate plan like having car insurance: you don’t expect to use it, but you wouldn’t drive without it. Here’s five reasons you should get an estate plan today:
1. Estate planning saves money.
Estate planning is not free- and any lawyer worth hiring is going to charge hundreds or  thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of the plan. But proper estate planning costs a lot less than not having an estate plan at all. With no health care power of attorney, your family may end up in court fighting over your medical care. With no durable power of attorney for finances, your family may have to go to court to get a guardianship over you. With no will and living trust, your family will have to probate your estate, which may cost upwards of $10,000 in court fees, attorney costs, and other administrative costs, and which rarely takes less than a year. Planning is money well spent.
2. It’s more powerful.
If you leave a will, power of attorney, and other documents as part of a comprehensive estate plan, you can maintain control. You  pick who manages your assets and what they  have the power to do. A plan you make yourself is always going to have more authority and more flexibility than the alternative, which is going to court for a guardianship or appointment as administrator of the estate.
This is especially true because the laws don’t keep up with changes in our lifestyles. Most states, for example, do not have laws on the books allowing fiduciaries access to your digital assets. This is a lot more problematic than it sounds- if you have a lot of photos on your Facebook account, for example, a person appointed by the court to administer your estate may not be able to get access to your photos because you did not leave anything stating outright that you wanted that person to have access to your photos. Photos of your life might be lost forever because you didn’t have a well-drafted will.
3. It’s personalized.
If you don’t have a will, the state has written one for you. The laws that govern the distribution of your property if you don’t have a will, called “intestacy” statutes, are your state legislature’s guess of how most people would want their property to be distributed.
These statutes often have not been updated to take modern lifestyles into account- they do not protect long-term partnerships that are not formalized as marriage, they do not include stepchildren or friends, and there is a very good chance they don’t reflect what you want.
Just look at the recent death of Prince- during his lifetime, he financially supported many causes. After his death, because his property will be distributed according to state law, to his siblings, those charities may have lost a benefactor. We have no way of knowing if that’s what Prince would have wanted- and that’s the point. No matter what he wanted, his estate is going to be distributed according to Minnesota’s intestacy laws (and, perhaps, settlements from estate litigation between his relatives).
4. The Unexpected Happens
It’s the unpleasant truth: people die or are hurt every day. Car accidents, unexpected illnesses. It’s so easy to think that these things only happen to other people, but someone has to be that other person. Someone has to be the person who’s in the car accident or who’s diagnosed with a serious illness. As I said above, I consider having an estate plan to be the same as having insurance. No one wants to use it, but having it is absolutely invaluable: when you need it, none of the alternatives will do.
5. It’s the kindest thing you can do for your loved ones.
Imagine that you have just lost a loved one. A parent, perhaps, or a spouse. You are grieving, in shock, and you have to find the strength and the concentration to deal with the financial aftermath.
What would you want that process to look like? Would you like it to be short, private, and affordable, or would you like it to take a minimum of 8-12 months, be public, involve the probate court, and cost thousands of dollars in court and legal fees?
It’s not a hard choice, is it?
Losing a loved one or going through a serious illness is stressful. Estate planning can’t save you or your family from having to experience these events, but it can make things easier. It can prevent unnecessary court proceedings, minimize legal costs, and make sure that your family not only knows what you’d want, but has the  authority to carry your wishes out. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. 
Ultimately, that’s the greatest benefit of estate planning: knowing you’ve done everything you can to protect your family in the event that something happens to you. It might just be the best money you spend for them.

FAQ Series: What is Estate Planning?

Sometimes when I’m out and about and I say that I’m an estate planning attorney, the person I’m talking to looks a little confused. “Wills and trusts,” I’ll add for clarification, which usually helps. People generally know what a will is, at least, even if they’re a little fuzzy on the details.
“Estate Planning” does, I have to admit, sound pretty vague- but it’s a better description of the practice area than “Wills and Trusts” or “Trusts and Estates” or any of the other options out there.
The American Bar Association defines Estate Planning as
A process by which an individual designs a strategy and executes a will, trust agreement, or other documents to provide for the administration of his or her assets upon his or her incapacity or death.  Tax and liquidity planning are part of this process.
It’s a good definition- if a bit dry- because estate planning is comprehensive. The process involves a discussion about the client's family, their assets, and their goals. I talk with clients about their family and friends, determining who’s the right person to manage finances if the client is incapacitated, to have guardianship of a client’s children, or to make the client’s medical decisions if the client can’t do so. We talk about bank accounts, real estate, cars- everything down to the client’s jewelry and the sentimental items they want to pass on to their children. We talk about burial instructions, organ donation, and specific desires the client has for end-of-life care. Once we’ve had that conversation, we can talk about the legal documents that suit their needs and goals.
A basic modern estate plan consists of a Will, a Durable Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Power of Attorney, and a HIPAA Health Insurance Privacy Release Form. For some people, additional documents such as Trusts, Burial Directives, and Nominations of Guardianship may be appropriate. Estate Plans can vary widely, since they depend on your goals and your wishes.
When I am working with estate planning clients, my goal is to develop a plan that suits their goals, their family, their assets, their wishes and hopes and fears. The goal is for the client to leave my office able to sleep better at night, because they know that they’ve written down what they want and have given their loved ones the legal authority to carry their wishes out if the unexpected happens.
So estate planning is a process. Legal documents such as wills and trusts are the tool. It’s the client’s job to tell me what they want; it’s my job to know which documents and strategies to use to get them there. The process may also involve a financial advisor, CPA, or other professional, as we want to make sure we address all of the client’s needs- for example, making sure that the client’s beneficiary designations on insurance policies and retirement accounts are in harmony with their new estate plan.
At the end of the estate planning process, the client has an estate plan that ensures that, if they become incapacitated or pass away, their wishes are carried out and their loved ones are cared for. That only happens with comprehensive planning- the documents in any individual estate plan work with each other to plan for many different contingencies. Just drafting a will or a power of attorney isn’t enough. 
(Ready to get started? Click Here.)
Next time: why estate planning is important.

FAQ Series: What’s the difference between a will and a living will?

A Will is a document in which you direct the distribution of your property after your death. After you die, your executor will file the will with the probate court, which will then oversee the transfer of your assets to the people you’ve named in your will to receive them. 
A Living Will is a document in which, depending on your state, you state your wishes for your healthcare if you’re not able to make your decisions yourself and appoint someone to make those decisions on your behalf. However, the actual terminology for living wills varies from state to state- there are health care proxies, living wills, advance directives, and health care powers of attorney. The actual function of these documents varies from state to state (an Advance Directive, for example, may be a binding document in which you appoint an agent to make your medical decisions if you’re unable to do so yourself, but may also be a more general statement of your understanding that life is finite.)
New Hampshire
In New Hampshire, health care planning is accomplished through a two-part document called a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. The basic document is a statutory form (you can find it in RSA Chapter 137-J).  (You do not have to do both parts of the document - you can do one or the other - but I advise clients to do both.)
The first part is called an Advance Directive. This document allows you to appoint an agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so. You can only appoint one person at a time, but it’s a good idea to appoint several alternates. The Advance Directive is also where you note your wishes with regard to the starting, continuation, or discontinuation of life-sustaining treatment. You may also add any additional health care instructions you want your agent to respect, such as treatments or medications you may want or not want, or other guidelines for your treatment.
The second part is called a Living Will and sets guidelines for determining when it would be appropriate to withdraw or refuse life-sustaining treatment. It also states your wishes for palliative care (for example, hydration and nutrition to be kept comfortable).
In Massachusetts, the “Living Will” is also accomplished with two documents: a Health Care Proxy and an Advance Directive.
A Massachusetts Health Care Proxy allows you to appoint an agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so. You may also use this document to state any specific instructions you have for your medical treatment.
The Advance Directive is a statement of your feelings with regard to life-sustaining treatment, and can be modified to suit your wishes. This document is not necessary and is not binding (the Health Care Proxy accomplished the legal goal of granting someone the authority to make your medical decisions), but can be helpful to your family as a written expression of your wishes, should they have some disagreement over your medical decisions.
Why do you need any of these documents?
The textbook example of the need for a Health Care Proxy or Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare is the sad case of Terry Schiavo, the Florida woman who suffered serious brain damage after a heart attack in 1990 and who then became the object of years of litigation between her husband (who wanted to remove her from life support) and her parents (who did not). The case involved multiple lawsuits, guardianship hearings, a hasty law passed by the state legislature that the state Supreme Court declared unconstitutional, and national controversy. Schiavo’s parents and husband disagreed about what she would have wanted, and there was no living will to state her wishes after she was no longer able to speak. Schiavo’s feeding tube was eventually removed, and she died in 2005.
It’s important to have a document signed by you, drafted with your specific wishes and family situation in mind, that allows your family or the person you’ve appointed as your agent not only to make your medical decisions, but to know what those decisions are. These documents not only ensure that you receive the treatment you’d want; they can also save years of family fights by stating your wishes in black and white, with your signature right there on the page. 
I recommend these documents to all clients, from 18-year-olds leaving for college or the workplace to young parents to retired folks. Unfortunately, we can’t predict the future. No one knows when they might need someone to make these difficult decisions on their behalf. But if you’ve ever thought, I’d never want to be kept alive without any hope of recovery or If there’s any hope of my recovery I want every last test and procedure or anything in between, ensure that your wishes will be followed and get a Health Care Proxy or Power of Attorney.