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Powers of attorney as part of an estate plan

Planning can be challenging for some, whether it is making plans for the weekend, next month, next year or at the end of his or her life. Estate planning can be an intricate process that allows you to dictate every detail of how your estate will be handled upon your death. But what happens if you don’t make it that far in good health? What if you suddenly become incapable of making important financial and healthcare decisions on your own? If you haven’t addressed this in your estate plan, then you may be subjected to a guardianship where another individual petitions the court to assume legal responsibility for you and your affairs. While that might sound okay, the individual who winds up assuming guardianship may not be your first choice.

Fortunately, you can avoid this need by creating powers of attorney as part of your estate plan. In essence, these documents authorize another person to make important decisions on your behalf. These documents can address financial matters, healthcare matters or both. It is worth noting that the person named in your power of attorney must make decisions that he or she believes are in your best interests. Therefore, if you name someone you know and trust, then you can rest easy knowing that you will be well taken care of if the need arises.

There are a few important considerations with regard to these documents. The first is that it is usually important to make them “durable.” This means that the person named in the document will become responsible for your decisions if you become incapacitated. The second consideration is that the person named in your medical power of attorney will have access to your medical records and can fire your medical team.

Creating durable powers of attorney can be incredibly important to your estate plan. Yet, they need to be carefully thought out can drafted with delicacy. For this reason, it is often necessary to discuss these matters with a skilled legal professional before moving forward.