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Legal Definitions

Will:  A document that provides for the distribution of property owned by you at the time of your death. Additionally, a will may designate a guardian for your minor child or children.

Trust:  A trust is generally created during your lifetime and can be created in your will or in a separate document. There are many reasons to create a trust, and several types of trusts to fit different circumstances. Trusts offer more flexible ways of managing, distributing, and protecting your family’s assets than a will may be able to. Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable.

Power of Attorney:  Documents that give one or more persons the power to act on your behalf. The power may be limited to a particular activity (e.g., closing the sale of your home) or general in its application, empowering one or more persons to act on your behalf in a variety of situations. It may take effect immediately or only upon the occurrence of a future event (e.g., a determination that you are unable to act for yourself).

Health Care Power of Attorney:  A document appointing a person to make medical decisions in the event you are unable to express your preferences.

Living Will:  A document directing how you want to be treated in certain medical situations. A living will permits you to express whether or not you wish to be given life-sustaining treatments in the event that you are terminally ill or injured, to decide in advance whether you wish to be provided food and water via intravenous devices, and to give other medical directions that impact the end of life.