Estate Planning, and Durable Powers of Attorney
Estate planning is the umbrella term used by a variety of different professionals, including attorneys, financial planners, accountants/CPAs, funeral home directors, and bankers to refer to anything related to planning how you will live out the retirement period and how to deal with your assets after you pass. As an estate planning attorney I will assist you in determining whether a Will, Revocable Living Trust, Irrevocable Trust, or some other type of vehicle is best for your asset management, protection, and eventual distribution to your heirs. While you are alive, if for some reason you are no longer able to make decisions, it is imperative that you have a durable power of attorney in place so that someone else can make decisions for you while you cannot; this avoids an expensive guardianship. Durable powers of attorney are discussed more in depth below and when you are ready give us a call today at 509-293-9867 to speak with an experienced estate planning legal professional to discuss your options!
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a document that allows you to designate an individual who will make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to do so. It is a very powerful document that allows you to avoid having to go through an expensive guardianship or conservatorship. There are two main types of durable power of attorneys, the durable power of attorney for financial and property and the durable power of attorney for health care. The benefits of having a durable power of attorney in place are the following:
- Provides the ability to choose who will make decisions for you (rather than a court).
- Avoids an expensive guardianship or conservatorship.
- Provides family members a good opportunity to discuss wishes and desires.
- Prevents delays in asset protection planning.
- Protects the agent from claims of financial abuse.
- Allows agent to talk to other agencies and implement financial planning mechanisms.
- Provides peace of mind for everyone involved.
The durable power of attorney for health care provides the authority for the individual to follow your wishes as spelled out in the health care directive (formerly known as the Living Will). The health care directive provides instructions for the individual who is named as the durable power of attorney for health care as to how you would like to be cared for if you are unresponsive, in a coma-like state, in a vegetative state, comatose or in the late stage of a terminal illness. The health care directive is particularly important because in it you can spell out your wishes regarding such items as:
- Tube feeding
- Tube hydration
- Artificial Respiration (Lung Machine)
- Maximum pain relief (even if it hastens your death)
These decisions are important and need to be made in advance for your well being and for the peace of mind of your loved ones who have to make these decisions which are easier if they are spelled out in a health care directive. The durable powers of attorney cease to be in effect at your death so it is important to also have a Will or Trust in place as the individual who you designated as your durable power of attorney will no longer have any authority or ability to do anything with your property. Always consult with an attorney regarding these documents by calling today at 509-293-9867! I have provided below a diagram of how the durable power of attorney process is laid out.