Estate planning can be a challenging process for any family. However, it should be done if you want to have your wishes honored. A power of attorney is one of the most critical elements of estate planning. Make sure you understand the entire process and all the legal implications involved.
What Are the Elements of Estate Planning?
Estate planning isn’t a single process. Instead, it’s a set of different legal processes that come together holistically to give a living person the ability to help direct their inheritance after they pass away. As such, estate planning should include most of the following elements:
- Drafting of a last will and testament
- Drafting of a living will for specific medical circumstances
- Creation of a trust or trusts
- Assigning of the power of attorney
- Designation of beneficiaries for your property and assets
What Is the Power of Attorney?
Of the items in this list, power of attorney sometimes referred to as the POA document, is the one that people often have trouble fully conceptualizing. Power of attorney comes into play when a person is still alive but is in a medically frail state in which they may no longer have a full grasp of their mental faculties. Examples would include if a person has developed dementia or has become mentally ill.
In this scenario, the person who was granted power of attorney for such situations will be able to make decisions on your behalf. This could be decisions as important as assigning the guardianship of children or who will receive priceless antiques. This will be accomplished in a document you will sign and date before entering this medically frail state.
What Is a Living Will?
Closely related to this concept is that of a living will. Unlike a conventional last will and final testament, a living will anticipates a situation in which the testator cannot make decisions for him or herself. In most instances, a living will clarifies the testator’s wishes regarding medical treatment and end-of-life decisions.
If you want to ensure your wishes for when you’re gone or can no longer communicate are adhered to, you must act while you are still of sound mind. This includes the drafting of wills, the creation of the power of attorney and much more. Doing so early before you have any health concerns is always a good idea.