Life and Estate Planning – Part II
Power of Attorney
Life and Estate planning is not just about what happens at death. Who will pay your bills or manage your affairs if you become disabled, temporarily or for an extended period? Either you will have appointed the back-up decision-makers who you know and trust as part of a proper Life and Estate Plan, or by default, the court system will appoint and supervise them for you. This default approach will require the employment of two to three attorneys and can be rather expensive.
The following documents, when designed correctly, can avoid the need for a court appointed guardian and allow you to relax knowing that someone you know and trust will handle your affairs if you’re incapacitated.
Durable Power of Attorney: A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) is a legal document in which you (the “Principal”) delegate authority to the agent of your choice, which remains effective even if you become incapacitated. The authority granted to the agent depends on the specific language of the DPOA.
DPOA executed on or after October 1, 2011 are effective immediately upon execution. Sometimes, a Principal is reluctant to delegate broad powers to anyone while he or she is still competent. Therefore, you may want to place the DPOA in escrow with instructions to deliver the DPOA to the designated agent upon the disability of the principal and not before.
Advance Medical Directive (“Living Will”): A Living Will specifies your wishes as to the provision or termination of medical procedures when you are diagnosed with a terminal condition, have an end-stage condition, and/or are in a in a persistent vegetative state. A Living Will allows you to specify the kind of medical care you want under the circumstances you describe when you are unable to understand or unable to communicate with a doctor.
In a Living Will, you should express your wishes in as much detail as possible so that medical-care providers will be able to understand your intent clearly.
Health Care Surrogate Designation: A Health Care Surrogate Designation is a document in which you, the Principal, designate someone else to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions yourself. A health care surrogate decision-maker has no authority to act until at least one physician has determined that the Principal lacks the capacity to make informed health care decisions. The scope of a Health Care Surrogate Designation generally goes beyond that of a Living Will. While a Living Will usually is concerned medical treatment in the event you become terminally ill, a Health Care Surrogate Designation can address nearly any health decision
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