Two important documents that should be a part of any estate plan are the medical power of attorney, sometimes referred to as the health care proxy and the durable power of attorney. Each play distinctive roles in ensuring your wishes are adhered to should be suffer an injury or otherwise become incapacitated.
Medical Power of Attorney
A health care proxy or medical power of attorney is a document that allows you to name an individual, and ideally at least one alternate, who will step up to the plate to speak on your behalf and ensure that the terms of your living will are carried out. This may be either a temporary or permanent incapacity.
Often, our clients know exactly who they want to include and other times, the choice isn’t as obvious as they might hope. It’s an important decision and one that should not be taken lightly. Be sure to discuss your intentions with your loved ones and take into consideration things like how close you physically live to someone you’re considering and someone who can stand up to other family members who might disagree with what your wishes are. Remember, this is the person who may have to exert confidence when speaking with medical professionals when it comes to ensuring your wishes are met.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney (DPOA) is another very important form that names a friend or family member to handle your affairs if you are no longer able to do so yourself. Ideally, it would be prepared by your estate planning lawyer so that there are no vulnerabilities. The “durable” aspect means it’s not affected by your incapacity – it remains in force. It may be either non-springing (going into effect immediately) or springing (effective only at incapacity).
The DPOA will allow the person you’ve chosen to make a number of important decisions, including those associated with real estate, banking, insurance and even investments. These decisions are binding – even if they are submitted to banks or other financial companies. That means they can be used to withdraw funds from banks or even your retirement plan. It’s an important decision – choose wisely.
Despite the enormity of the durable power of attorney, many people tend to avoid them. Once they’ve considered what the absence of such a document means, they will often rethink their decisions – and they should. It can prevent any number of problems. Your estate planning lawyer can provide specifics based on your unique circumstances. Remember, the purpose is to help prevent lengthy guardianship proceedings and other similar family problems that can result in damaging splits within your family.
These are just two of the important documents that should be part of your estate plan. Your circumstances will determine the specifics and your estate planning lawyer will work with you so that you know it’s complete and that you and your family is protected.
Have questions? Give us a call today and allow us to show you how easy and affordable proper estate planning can be. As you can see, with the help of a qualified and experienced estate planning lawyer, along with a few properly prepared legal documents, you can potentially avoid some very serious problems down the road.