Another Monday here yet again. This weekend, one of our very tall Eucalyptus trees toppled. The ground was just too wet and winds too high. The wind this weekend was pretty strong where we are and I feel lucky to have lost only one tree. At some point, we will have to get the power saw and reduce this behemoth to a manageable size, or pay someone else to do it. The joys of being a homeowner.
Estate planning is not just about after death planning, but planning to make sure things go smoothly during your lifetime. Incapacity planning, both legal and medical, is very important to avoid conservatorship and most court intervention allowing others to manage your legal and medical affairs if you cannot. These documents may never be needed but will save your family thousands in conservator fees and potential court costs should you be unable to make decisions for yourself. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
Until next time,
Power of Attorney – What is it and Is it Enough?
Power of attorney (POA) is a document that grants a specific person, called an agent, the authority to make important decisions on behalf of another person, called the principal.
There are many different kinds of power of attorney. The scope of the authority the principal grants to the agent can be very broad or quite specific. The power of attorney document specifies exactly what that authority looks like. For example, it is customary to give someone the power to make decisions about your:
• Health care
• Personal property
• Real estate
• Personal and family matters
• Insurances and annuities
• Government benefits
The agent can be granted authority to make only financial decisions or just health care decisions. Every situation is different and calls for a customized document reflecting the wishes of the principal.
When it comes to powers of attorney, there are several options for granting decision-making authority in your life. A power of attorney cannot address all situations and is not recommended as a substitute for a Will, or a Trust.
If you are looking to give comprehensive authority to another in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself, and in the event of your death, consider executing a separate advanced health care directive for medical decisions and creating a Living Trust to hold title to your assets to meet those needs.
Financial institutions are often hesitant to accept a power of attorney and may require your family to go to Court to get access to your assets in the event you are incapacitated. And, a power of attorney will not keep your family out of Court in the event of your death.
The laws governing power of attorney vary from state to state and situation to situation. Speak with us as your Personal Family Lawyer® if you have questions about granting decision making authority to someone else. A trusting relationship with a Personal Family Lawyer® can guide you in your estate planning, making sure all your legally documents are sound and protect your interests effectively.