Five Key Documents Your Loved Ones May Need Someday


Working day in and day out, it may seem like your golden years are a million miles away. And that is true for most, but what if an unfortunate event happens in the meantime?

Would your loved ones be prepared? Would they know what to do and whom to call?

Your legacy isn’t just about the larger echoes of your work and ministry. It also includes the small, administrative details that will have lasting effects.

Before it’s too late, make sure you have these important documents ready and up-to-date.

Making decisions now will save your loved ones from potential conflict and guessing about decisions later.

The Will

The simplest form of estate planning is the will. This legal document, when properly prepared, directs how your estate/assets should be distributed so that your wishes will be respected. The will is especially important if you have minor children, as it may specify the guardians for your children.

Keep in mind, accounts with beneficiary designations — including many life insurance policies and GuideStone® retirement plans — are generally excluded from decisions made in wills. Make sure your beneficiary designations are up-to-date.


How does a trust differ from a will?

Whereas a will expresses your wishes after your death, a trust can take effect before or after your death. It also allows you to control the distribution of your estate under either circumstance. A trust is a legal vehicle that allows a third party to hold and direct your assets for your benefit or that of your beneficiaries.

For example, you can utilize a trust created during your lifetime, a living trust, or you can create a trust to hold and manage assets for your beneficiaries after your death. Many different options are available to you. In fact, some options allow you to remain as your own trustee until your death.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Authorization

A HIPAA authorization is a legal document that allows your medical information to be legally shared with or used by third parties. It is important that this document lists the people you wish to have access to your medical information. You may also select to share all information or keep some information private.

Living Will (health care directive)

A living will is a legal document that specifies your preferences about medical care in the event you become incapacitated and are no longer able to communicate decisions for yourself. Through a living will, you may direct family and medical specialists whether to keep you on artificial life support and appoint someone to make health care decisions on your behalf.

Medical Power of Attorney (health care proxy)

A medical power of attorney is a revocable written document that also allows someone else to make health care decisions on your behalf; however, it is generally broader in scope than a living will and encompasses all health care situations where you cannot make decisions for yourself. It is also good practice to name alternate agents in the event something happens to your initially designated health care proxy.

Your attorney can help you determine which of these documents you need in place for your family’s well-being.

As previously mentioned, GuideStone provides insurance policies and savings accounts that will use the beneficiary designation that a participant has filed with us as the primary directive in the event of a death. Please update your beneficiary designation if you have not done so. We also accept power of attorney documents if you wish to conduct affairs with GuideStone on behalf of a parent or loved one.

For more information, please contact GuideStone at 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433) between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT, Monday–Friday.

This information should not be considered tax or legal advice. Please consult your own tax and legal advisor(s) for specific details about your personal situation.