Living in the time of COVID-19 has heightened everyone’s anxiety. With all of the uncertainties in life, implementing estate planning documents that provide for you and your family can afford some level of relief. Estate planning documents allow you to designate agents to assist with your affairs, while providing structure to assist loved ones as they navigate through turbulent situations. Working with an attorney can help to address questions you will have about your estate plan and will offer personal guidance through this process.
While estate planning is often viewed as only having a Will in place, there are other planning documents that are critically important. A Power of Attorney appoints an agent to manage your financial and legal affairs in the event of your incapacity. The Power of Attorney must be drafted and executed correctly so that the agent has authority to conduct necessary transactions and take necessary action in a timely manner.
When a person is incapacitated, hospitals and medical providers will require a surrogate decision maker to exercise medical decision making authority. A Power of Attorney for Healthcare allows you to designate a healthcare agent who you believe is best suited to make these types of decisions. A properly drafted Power of Attorney for Healthcare protects you by enabling the agent to take timely action on types of treatment, choice of medical staff, pain management and other important issues.
Lastly, a Will is necessary to manage and distribute a person’s estate after they pass. This includes naming appropriate beneficiaries and designating executors and other fiduciaries to carry out the terms of the Will. A Will provides a basic level of protection to your spouse and loved ones and avoids unnecessary expenses for your Estate. In some instances, more sophisticated estate planning documents, including trusts, are needed to accomplish your overall goals.
A Will, Power of Attorney, and Healthcare Power of Attorney provide a basic level of protection in the event of unexpected illness or injury. Failure to have these documents in place relinquishes your right to control these decisions and will generally require Court intervention to resolve them – with the resultant costs that will follow. The uncertainties created by this void may also encourage disputes among your heirs or cause unnecessary emotional hardship. An experienced estate planning attorney will help you through this process, while being available to answer questions you may have about your unique circumstances. Now is a good time to address these issues.