I am often asked "what is the purpose of this document" and "do I really need all of these documents". Yes, you do need all of these documents and here is an explanation as to the purpose of each document.
Durable Power of Attorney: This document allows you to appoin an individual who will have power and authority to act on your behalf and in your name with regard to matter such as property transactions, stock and bond transactions, bank and other financial institution transactions, business operating transactions, etc.
Healthcare Power of Attorney & Living Will: This document allows you to appoint an agent for all matters relating to health care, including the power to give or refuse medical, surgical, hospital and related healthcare. The Living Will portion of the document allows you to provide clear instructions as to whether or not you consent to an autopsy, organ donation, comfort care, etc.
Last Will and Testament: This document briefly describes the distribution of your property. It also allows you to state your wishes with regard to your funeral arrangements. A Last Will and Testament is typically used for individuals who do not have any assets and is not necessarily needing to protect their estate from probate court.
Living Trust: There are two types of Trust (also known as Living Trust), Revocable or Irrevocable. There are certain tax implications depending on which type of Trust you decide to have so it is important to consult with your CPA prior to establishing your Trust. A Revocable Trust can be revoked at any time while an Irrevocable Trust cannot. The Trust will hold all of your assets and you can add/remove the assets from the Trust during your lifetime. Once you pass away, your Successor Trustee will carry out your wishes with regard to distribution of your assets and property contained in the Trust.