Myth: I don’t have anything to leave to anyone, so I don’t need estate planning.
Truth: Estate planning is more than just disposing of your “stuff.” An important aspect of estate planning that is often overlooked is incapacity planning. A last will and testament (“will”) only becomes effective upon your passing through the probate process. Your will does not allow anyone to manage your financial or medical affairs while you are alive. It is important to have a plan in place to manage a potential incapacity before the incapacity happens.
Two documents that allow you to plan for incapacity are the power of attorney for financial management and the advance care directive for healthcare decisions. While outside the scope of this article, a revocable living trust can also be used as an incapacity planning tool.
A power of attorney for financial management allows you to name an agent who can step in and manage financial matters for you if you are unable to make financial decisions yourself. Your power of attorney agent generally has the authority to handle any financial matter that you could handle yourself if you were able. This power can include writing checks, opening accounts, selling real estate or other assets, paying taxes and bills, and speaking with social security. Without having a power of attorney in place before incapacity happens, you and your family risk a potentially expensive and time consuming conservatorship process where a court would name someone to manage your financial affairs if you are incapacitated.
An advance care directive allows you to name an agent to manage your medical care if you are no longer able to communicate your medical wishes to your doctors and care providers. This document also denotes your choices for end of life care and treatment options to guide your family and doctors in making medical decisions for you.
At Lodestone Legal Group we are here to help with all of your estate planning needs. If you are interested in setting up a free initial consultation to further discuss your particular situation or if you have any questions, please give us a call at 615-807-1240 or contact our estate planning attorney directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working with you!
Post Authored by Brittney Mulvaney