Advanced Planning -
Proactively Protect Yourself, Your Loved Ones and Your Property

Advance-Planning-photo-1aAt the AIDS Legal Services Project (ALSP), “advance planning” encom-
passes three documents - a will, Advance Healthcare Directive and General Power of Attorney. These documents create a complete plan that will make sure your wishes are honored at a time when you need them but are unable to make decisions yourself. Regardless of your current health and financial situation, preparing advanced planning documents may give you and your loved one’s peace of mind knowing that the proper documents are in place.


Disclaimer- The content here on this website is informational only and is not an exhaustive review of consumer debt issues nor is it intended to be legal advice. The intent is to provide you with general information to better understand your situation and the tools available to take action if needed. This website contains links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for your convenience; we do not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to your particular legal matter. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between you and LACBA Counsel for Justice, its employees or volunteers.

THE CONTENT FOUND HERE WAS CURRENT AT THE TIME OF WRITING (MAY 2020). LAWS AND LEGAL PROCEDURES ARE SUBJECT TO FREQUENT CHANGE AND DIFFERING INTERPRETATIONS. YOU SHOULD SEEK THE COUNSEL OF AN ATTORNEY TO RECEIVE LEGAL ADVICE SPECIFIC TO YOUR SITUATION.

 
Will
 

• What is it and why is it important?

A will is something everyone should have. It allows you to decide where your property goes upon your passing. Property listed in a will doesn’t have to be of great value; it can also include photo albums, family heirlooms or a car. Additionally, wills may include specific wishes regarding funeral arrangements or whether you would like to be buried or cremated.

Making a will ensures that your property goes where you want it to and does not enter a lengthy process called “intestate succession” which results in your things being given to the closest living relatives the court can locate.

• How can I prepare to make a will?

  1. Consider what you own- both property of greater value and property of sentimental value.
  2. Think of who you would want to receive your property (called a “beneficiary.”) Do you want to make specific bequests of certain personal items? Do you want to donate your property to a non-profit organization? Also, think about naming an alternate beneficiary in case your first choice is not available.
  3. Also consider who you would like to name as your executor. This person will carry out the instructions you leave in your will so they should be a trustworthy and reliable individual. Most people choose a spouse or partner, best friend, or perhaps a sibling. It also makes sense to name as executor the person (“beneficiary”) who will be receiving the most property in the will. It is also a good idea to name an alternate executor, in case your first choice is not available.
 
Advanced Health Care Directive
 

• What is it and why is it important?

This is a very important document for people living with chronic health conditions. An advanced health care directive allows you to name someone (“agent”) who you trust to make crucial medical decisions on your behalf in case you are unable to communicate with your medical team. This document ensures you are in control. Without this directive, your doctor and family would have to guess what your wishes would be and make decisions regarding your healthcare and autonomy that you may not have wanted.

• How can I prepare to make an Advanced Healthcare Directive?

  1. Consider how you want to live, what quality of life means to you, and what medical care you would want or not want. Our “Values History for Health Care” Organizer may help you think this through.
  2. Carefully consider who you would like to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so. If you can, try to name a first and second choice in case the first-choice person isn’t available at the time you need them.
  3. Discuss the responsibility of serving as an agent with the person(s) you are considering.
 
General Power of Attorney
 

• What is it and why is it so important?

Sometimes this document is referred to as a “financial power of attorney.” It allows you to name someone (“agent”) who you trust to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Through this document, you decide whether to give your agent very broad powers or narrower powers. Powers include but are not limited to paying your bills, collecting your mail, and settling your debts.

• How can I prepare to make a General Power of Attorney?

  1. Carefully consider who you would trust making financial decisions for you if you were unable to do so. This person should also have an attention to detail, an understanding of finances, and an ability to communicate with your landlord or bank.
  2. Discuss the responsibility of serving as a general power of attorney with the person you are considering. Make sure they are not only willing to serve as your agent but also understand what you want from them.
 
Preparing Advanced Planning Documents
 

• What can I do once I am ready to move forward and prepare these documents?

The AIDS Legal Services Project is here to help. If you are ready to fill out the online intake form, click HERE. It will be reviewed to see if you qualify for free legal services through the AIDS Legal Services Project. If you are over income or have too many assets, then the project might need to refer you to the Lawyer Referral Service

If you have any questions, you can email ALSPinfo@lacba.org or call (213) 833-6776.

• I want to read more before preparing advanced planning documents.

There is a wealth of online resources to help you learn more about advanced planning documents and why they are important. The AIDS Legal Services Project has also prepared the additional documents below to provide you with additional information.

Will Questions & Answers- AIDS Legal Service Project

Advance Care Planning Tools and Resources- Coalition for Compassionate Care California

Values History for Health Care- AIDS Legal Service Project