Vermont: Every Legal, Medical, and Estate Planning Document You Need

Here's a complete guide to every critical medical, legal, and estate planning document and relevant state law for Vermont. Download these forms and get started with Pillar to organize all of your most important documents in one safe, secure, easy-to-use online storage solution

February 2, 2021

There’s a lot to love about living in Vermont. Known for its natural beauty, majestic green mountains, scenic hiking trails, and world-famous skiing, some residents of the state are happy to stay their entire lives. Not only is the unemployment rate one of the lowest in the U.S., but it’s also ranked as the #2 safest state in the country.

If you or someone you’re caring for lives in the Green Mountain State, then there will be several important documents you’ll want to have organized in case of an emergency. Here’s a complete list of all medical, legal, and estate planning forms you’ll need as a resident of Vermont.

Essential Medical State Laws & Forms: Vermont

How to Get Your Medical Records in Vermont

In Vermont, healthcare providers must maintain a patient’s medical records as follows:

  • Doctors: 6 years as required by HIPAA regulations.
  • Hospitals: 10 years.

For as long as they are available, you have the right to get a copy or amend your medical records. You can find out more about how to do this here.

Read more about your rights when it comes to your medical records.

Vermont Advance Directive Laws

Residents of Vermont who wish to set up an advance directive can download all the forms they need from the Vermont Department of Health

The site offers two types of documents to choose from:

  • A long-form containing nine sections
  • A short-form with only five sections

Both documents will let you appoint a health care power of attorney and set up a living will. However, the long-form does allow you to specify additional details such as:

  • Others who are or may become involved in your care
  • Other treatment wishes
  • Wishes for the disposition of your body after death

You do not need a lawyer to complete these advance directive forms. To make them legally effective, you and two witnesses must sign these forms.

Once completed, the forms may be sent to the Vermont Advance Directive Registry. They will then be available to all medical facilities so that the information can be easily accessible when needed.

The Vermont Department of Health also offers free forms for the following:

  • DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) – Directs health care providers not to attempt resuscitation.
  • Clinician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (COLST) - Provides limitations on treatment or medical interventions. It may also include a DNR order.

You can download these forms here. Both must be ordered by the patient’s clinician.

Vermont Organ Donor Registry

Becoming an organ donor in the state of Vermont is a simple process. You can go online to the Center for Donation & Transplant (CDT) and register. The CDT serves 30 counties in New York and Vermont and ensures that gifts of organs, eyes, and tissues will get to those recipients who need them the most.

Essential Vermont Legal & Estate Planning Documents & Forms

Vermont Probate Laws

When a resident of Vermont passes away (i.e. becomes a "decedent"), their estate must go through the probate process if:

  • The decedent owned real property either solely in their name or as a tenant in common. Property owned in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety does not count.
  • The decedent had probate assets exceeding $45,000 such as bank accounts, personal property, business interests, etc.

At the start of probate, an executor will be appointed. This person will be in charge of inventorying the decedent’s assets, maintaining them, and then ultimately distributing them in accordance with the will. The probate court will supervise this process.

Some assets can automatically bypass probate and be transferred to heirs directly if they meet certain requirements. Examples of these “non-probate assets” include:

  • Retirement accounts, pensions, or annuities with a designated beneficiary
  • Property in a living trust
  • Property owned in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety
  • Bank or brokerage accounts held in joint tenancy

Learn more about the Vermont probate process.

Trusts in Vermont

A revocable living trust is another way to avoid probate and pass property directly to a beneficiary. Since Vermont does not use the Uniform Probate Code, probate can be a complex and lengthy process. Therefore, it may be a good idea to create a living trust to protect these assets from creditors and avoid the complexities of court altogether.

A will should also be written even if you create a trust. A will helps to provide a catch-all for any property that wasn't transferred to the trust. Without a will, it would be up to the court to determine how your remaining assets should be dispersed under Vermont state law.

Read more about the biggest differences between a will and a trust, and how each can assist you with probate when planning your estate.

Vermont Digital Estate Planning Laws

In Vermont, your digital assets (emails, social media accounts, etc.) can be accessed and managed by your personal representative or trustee. To find out more about everything that’s covered, you can read the full bill here: HB 152 (Act 13) Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act

How to Get a Death Certificate in Vermont

Death certificates may be ordered either by mail with a town clerk or online with the Vermont Health Department for a small fee. Click here to find out the details for both options.

Only people with one of the relationships listed in the application (such as a spouse, family member, attorney, etc.) are eligible to request a certified copy of a death certificate according to Vermont law.

Does Vermont Have an Estate & Inheritance Tax?

Whether you plan to leave assets to a beneficiary or you’re the heir to someone else’s estate, there may be taxes owed to the IRS. If you live in Vermont, here are the state-level taxes that will be collected:

  • Estate tax: If your estate is worth more than $2.75 million, then you will owe estate taxes at a rate of 16% on every dollar above this threshold. That's in addition to any federal estate taxes that you might also end up owing on larger estates.
  • Inheritance tax: None. Remember that if you live in Vermont and someone from another state has made you an heir to their estate, then the other state’s inheritance laws may apply.

How to Organize Your Most Important Documents

Vermont may be a picturesque and safe place to live. But to help streamline the medical and probate process as much as possible, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve got all of your important documents in order.

Create a customized account with Pillar and scan, digitally store, and share your most important files with your family and those who need them.

Start your free 14-day trial and let Pillar help make the complicated stuff a little easier to manage.