Most of us spend far more time planning for our life than planning for our incapacity or our death. Our loved ones will have many decisions to make and details to sort out unless we give them a roadmap outlining our wishes. That roadmap generally includes several documents: a will, a living will, and powers of attorney for healthcare and finance decisions. These documents should be completed when you have full mental capacity.
A will ensures that you, and not state law, determine who receives your personal property after you pass away. Without a will, the state’s intestacy laws will determine how your assets are distributed, even if that is not how you would have wanted it. The laws regarding the validity of wills are very specific, so it is important that an attorney draft your will and similar documents to ensure that they are valid upon your passing.
A living will is a declaration of the type of medical treatment you desire should you become incapacitated or can no longer communicate your wishes. The living will can specify not only affirmative medical treatment and pain relief to improve your quality of life, but also your funeral wishes, organ donation, and your desire to have a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order placed in your medical file. This document speaks for you during your life when you cannot.
A healthcare power of attorney names a person as your healthcare agent to make your medical decisions and have access to your medical records. The amount of power designated is completely up to you and the power can be subservient to the directions in your living will.
A durable financial power of attorney gives someone the authority to handle any or all financial transactions on your behalf. If you are unable or do not desire to do this yourself, your designee can manage your business affairs, invest or sell your assets, pay your bills, and communicate with debtors and creditors.
For your peace of mind, it is critical to execute these documents and ensure your wishes are carried out when you can no longer speak for yourself.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
Durable Financial Power of Attorney
Limited Power of Attorney
Family Business Succession Planning