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Are Wills and Powers of Attorney important?

Estate Planning Documents:

Are these documents important? In a word, yes. There are a number of documents which will allow you to establish your wishes legally when you may be unable to speak for yourself. These include:  a Durable Power of Attorney (POA), a Living Will, a Healthcare Power of Attorney, and of course, a Last Will and Testament.

Powers of attorney assign a person of your choosing to attend to your financial or healthcare matters should you be unable to do so. Similarly, a Living Will spells out your specific wishes about how your end of life will be maintained, and may be considered as an extension of your Health Care Power of Attorney. These documents are all designated in effect at a particular date of your choosing, or at a time when you have been determined to be unable to make decisions on your own.

As you can imagine, these issues can be easily misunderstood, misconstrued, or unknown, depending on who is asked. “Mom said...”, ”.No, she told me that...” To have clarity about these financial and healthcare matters not only assures your wishes are followed, it also gives those who will help you, your guidance.

Typically, there can be a primary person who is responsible – your “agent” -  as well as alternate agents. In case something were to happen to the person whom you assigned as your primary agent and they were unable to act as your agent, the responsibility would move to your alternate agents.

There are other documents that can make a difficult situation easier for those who will deal with your estate after your passing. A Beneficiary Deed, for instance, can transfer ownership of property to a designated party at the moment of your passing, thereby avoiding the involvement of the court in a probate proceeding.

And of course, your Last Will and Testament establishes the manner in which your estate is distributed and to whom, places the responsibility for carrying out your wishes on particular people, and gives your descendants the direction they will need.

Some people feel, perhaps subconsciously, that putting off the creation of these important documents, will lengthen life.  Unfortunately, that is not the case. The documents will be needed and they will not hasten your death.

Put your house in order  by preparing the estate documents papers. It will make your wishes clear and avoid needless misunderstanding and possible conflict.  Your friends and family will thank you for it. 

Be advised: No content on this site should be construed as legal advice. For legal advice, contact the offices of Cardinal Law.

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