Whether you are estate planning for the first time or modifying your existing plan, it is important to know these key terms.



Estate: All the money and property owned by a person at the time of their death along with that person’s debts and liabilities.

Health Care Directive (HCD): A written, legal document that designates a person to make health care decisions and states the wishes of an individual regarding lifesaving procedures in the event of a terminal illness or injury. It may also lay out other personal wishes and directions for end of life processes such as organ donation, cremation vs. burial, and funeral arrangements.

Health Care Agent: The person appointed in a Health Care Directive who makes health care-related decisions for an incapacitated person. The Health Care Agent may access medical records, speak with medical staff, and make medical decisions. This should be someone who understands and is committed to following your wishes in regard to traumatic injury, terminal illness or life-sustaining treatment.



Provider Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (“POLST”): A medical order that can give patients with advanced serious illnesses the option to exercise increased control over the treatment they do and do not want to receive at the end of life.  Unlike a health care directive, a POLST form must be signed by a licensed provider to be valid.

Power of Attorney (POA): A written, legal document that states who has the authority to act for another person regarding legal or financial matters. This document is often written to be “durable”, which means that it continues to be in effect while the person is incapacitated.

Probate: A legal process where a Will is recognized by a court, a Personal Representative is appointed, and a deceased person’s heirs are identified.

Trust: This is a legal arrangement where property is given my one person, the grantor, to be held by a person or entity, the trustee, for the benefit of a person or charity, the beneficiary. By establishing a Trust, a person may avoid probate and direct the treatment of their assets both during life and after death.

Will: A written, legal document that states who should manage their Estate (the Personal Representative) and who should receive their possessions and assets after they die. This document acts as a roadmap of a person’s wishes throughout the probate process.

CADI (Community Access for Disability Inclusion):  An applicant must be otherwise eligible for Medical Assistance, certified disabled by Social Security or the State Medical Review Team (SMRT), under 65 at the time of application, and need a nursing facility level of care.

Elderly Waiver:  Medical Assistance Elderly Waiver program may provide Medical Assistance services and care for someone age 65 or older still living in the community (at home, in assisted living or in memory care) needing nursing facility level of care determined through an assessment by a county social worker or nurse.  The same residency and financial eligibility rules apply and the cost to provide elderly waiver services must be less than Medical Assistance reimbursement for equivalent care in a nursing facility.  There must also be an available slot in the waiver program for an applicant to receive benefits.

Medicaid: Medical Assistance or MA in Minnesota is a social health care program for families and individuals with low income and limited resources; and a means-tested program that is jointly funded by the state and federal governments and managed by the state. Eligibility is determined by residency, age, need for nursing facility level of care and financial eligibility rules.

Medicare: A federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD); and an entitlement program and to qualify you must be eligible for Social Security or railroad retirement benefits eligibility and worked to pay into the program.  Medicare will pay the full cost of a stay in a skilled nursing facility for only 20 days if you meet specific qualifications.  It will pay part of the cost for the next 80 days.  Medicare does NOT pay for anything after 100 days.

Veterans Benefits:   There are both Minnesota and Federal Benefits available for Veterans and their spouses living in Minnesota including medical care and long-term care at a Minnesota Veterans Home, service and non-service related pensions, and burial benefits.  The benefits available to a Veteran or his or her spouse depends on the Veteran’s service; a review of the Veteran’s DD214 discharge papers is necessary to determine what benefits are available.