Estate planning may seem like a complex task to take on but ensuring that one’s end-of-life estate is properly managed is an important job to complete. That is because it can provide an estate planner with both peace of mind and financial security when the know their wealth will be distributed according to their wishes upon their death. It is never too early to meet with an estate planning lawyer to begin this important process.
One aspect of estate planning that is sometimes overlooked is the preparation and execution of durable powers of attorney. This post will introduce readers to durable powers of attorney and why they are important inclusions in estate plans. This post should not be used as a substitute for individual legal advice, and knowledgeable estate planning attorneys can help their clients avoid the challenges and pitfalls of the estate planning process.
Fact #1: Durable powers of attorney are applicable before death
While much of estate planning focuses on what should happen with a person’s assets when they die, there are important legal matters that may need to be addressed during their lifetime. For example, if a person suffers a medical event and becomes incapacitated, their will is not relevant because the person has not died. However, if the person cannot speak for themselves, they cannot agree to medical treatments or plans on their own.
A durable power of attorney gives a named person the power to make medical decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person. For many, durable powers of attorney are never utilized because they are never subject to incapacitation during their lives. However, without a durable power of attorney, a person’s medical wishes may not be respected without proper advisement and instruction.
Fact #2: Durable power of attorney rights cease when a person recovers
Durable powers of attorney are only enforceable during incapacitation. If a person whose durable power of attorney is being enforced recovers and can make their own medical decisions, the rights of the named party end. If a person passes away, the rights of the named party in the durable power of attorney also end and the rest of the individual’s estate plan becomes controlling.
Fact #3: It is better to have a durable power of attorney and not need it than the opposite
As stated, a durable power of attorney is applicable during a person’s lifetime. When they choose someone to stand in for them to make medical decisions on their behalf, they can instruct that person of their wishes on what life-saving treatments they may want. Without a durable power of attorney in place, the wishes of an incapacitated person may be unknown and unfollowed.
Estate planning involves more than drafting a will. Important documents like durable powers of attorney can be exceedingly important to men and women who want to have control over their care during incapacitation. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can help their client craft testamentary documents that meet their needs.