Far too often, life blindsides us with unexpected tragedies and complications. Estate planning is a crucial service that provides peace of mind through the structured management of your affairs. In fact, every adult—yes, anyone over the age of 18—should have three essential documents prepared to ensure that, in the event of incapacitation or death, there are legally binding instructions on file to ensure your wishes are carried out. You can outline which medical treatments you do or do not want to receive (and under which circumstances); you can name a person of your choosing to legally act as your agent in legal and financial matters; and you can define a clear plan for your final wishes and the distribution of your assets.
These three essential estate planning documents that everyone needs are: an advanced directive for healthcare (living will), power of attorney (POA), and a last will and testament.
Advanced Directive for Healthcare
Also known as a living will, this estate planning document outlines your wishes for medical treatment in the event you become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for yourself. This may be due to severe illness, incapacitation, or death. Designating a health care proxy—or medical power of attorney—is also quite beneficial. The agent named in this document can gain access to your medical records, and make medical decisions on your behalf, following the instructions outlined in your living will.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney (POA) grants a trusted individual the legal authority to act on your behalf in financial and legal matters, such as managing funds, selling assets, paying bills, and signing important documents, etc. If you end up in a coma, for example, your bills still need to be paid. Having a POA in place ensures that someone will be able to manage financial and legal matters in a timely manner.
Last Will and Testament
This legal document is a roadmap for how your estate will be distributed upon your death. This document does not take effect until after your death, and then must be validated or litigated in probate court. Without a last will and testament, your assets could be distributed to people who you do not want to receive them—for example, a spouse you have separated from, or a child with addiction issues. Furthermore, without this document, the scene is set for family feuding, as your loved ones and heirs argue about who gets what, and who is responsible for paying your debts and distributing your assets.
Barry Law, LLC can help guide you through the process of drafting these three essential estate planning documents. We will make sure you are asking the right questions, and planning for any variety of potential situations that could arise in the future. If you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation to review your estate planning needs, call David Barry at (913) 336-1600, or complete the brief form below to send a message to our team.