Rosanne S. Horan, Attorney
COMPASS LAW GROUP, LLC
a Missouri Limited Liability Company
10260 Manchester Road, Kirkwood, MO 63122
WHO NEEDS AN ESTATE PLAN?
you have assets, no matter how modest, or minor children, you need an estate plan. Wills, trusts, and other estate planning
documents can be very important in preserving assets and in ensuring distribution of assests to chosen beneficiaries.
They are also necessary to name guardians for minor children. Without a will or trust, upon a person's death, that person's
assets are disposed of according to state law. State law, called the law of intestacy, may or may not match what the
decendent's desires as to whom should get the property or how the property should be handled.
BASIC LEGAL DOCUMENTS FOR NEW ADULTS
The day you turn eighteen
years old marks your move to legal “adulthood”. There is no transition period – you are seventeen and a
legal “child” one day and the next day you are legally an adult.
This is a wonderful day in your life
because of the freedom and rights you gain – the right to vote, the right to make contracts, the right to privacy, etc.
On that day you also take on significant legal responsibilities like making sure you know about the candidates before you
vote, understanding the “fine print” on a contract before you sign it, AND creating legal documents that will
allow the people you love (and who love you) to help you when you need it most.
legal documents should, with rare exception, be part of your business papers: a Missouri Durable Power of Attorney for Finance,
a Missouri Power of Attorney for Health Care with Advance Directives, and a HIPAA Disclosure document.
What are YOUR legal needs?
BASIC WILLS AND LIVING TRUSTS
Depending on your life situation, it may be very appropriate for you to have a basic will and/or a living trust
and the ancillary documents to manage your affairs should you become incapacitated or die. When you become a parent, it may
become very important to you to ensure who will care for your child in the event of your death or disability. If you
have assets that carry a title, like real estate, bank accounts, or stocks and bonds, providing for their management and/or
distribution in an orderly and efficient manner is prudent.
MISSOURI POWER OF
ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE with ADVANCED DIRECTIVES
A Power of Attorney for Health Care with Advance Directives
allows you to name one or more specific individuals (called “Agents”) to whom you give power to make health care
decisions on your behalf, if and only if you are incompetent to make those decisions. (Legal incompetence is usually defined
as the inability to evaluate information and make decisions based on that information and is commonly seen in situations of
dementia, brain damage or coma.) This form allows the Agent to make health care decisions on your behalf while you are incompetent
– from the simplest matters, like selecting doctors or health care facilities, to more complex and difficult matters
like determining whether life support should be continued in the face of a specific medical prognosis. Having a trusted person
have this type of power to help you in your time of need is critically important. In addition to giving power, it is important
to give instructions. The “Advance Directives” portion of the document helps your Agent understand your feelings
and wishes about your health care and about ultimate decisions that might need to be made. It also provides important evidence
of your intentions should your situation ever become the subject of litigation.
A HIPAA Disclosure Document ensures that the people you name, including
your health care Agent, are allowed access to your medical records and encourages health care professionals to contact your
Agent and family in the event of an emergency. The current status of health care related privacy laws arguably prevent doctors
and hospitals from notifying parents and others regarding your health care. When this law is followed meticulously, a hospital
may be unable to contact your family in the event of a life threatening emergency merely because you are unconscious and unable
to give them permission to make that contact. This document and an accompanying laminated wallet card advising hospital administrators
of your permission to contact named individuals enable this information to be
MISSOURI DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
A Missouri Durable Power of Attorney for Finance allows you to name one or more specific individuals
(called “Agents”) to whom you give power to conduct business on your behalf. The power is generally given immediate
effect. This power allows the Agent to carry on basic transactions for you in your absence -- from the simplest matters, like
renewing your license plates, to more complex matters like creating or managing an investment account on your behalf. If you
will be away from home, giving a trusted person this type of power could be extremely helpful. If you would become disabled
or incompetent, it could be critically important.