The onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated just how quickly the state of ones’ health may shift. With the current healthcare uncertainties, many individuals have opted to move forward withupdating their estate plans.
In the absence of estate plans being established, it becomes the court’s responsibility to appoint a guardian who can then make financial and healthcare decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person. This scenario should be avoided, as the court process is typically lengthy and expensive, especially during a pandemic.
In order to ensure a basic amount of protection in the event of an unexpected health hurdle, the three documents you must have in place are 1) a power of attorney for financial matters 2) a health care power of attorney and 3) a last will and testament.
What do these basic estate planning documents entail?
- Power of attorney for financial matters
A Power of Attorney for finances is a legal document appointing a trusted individual of your choice to oversee your financial affairs in the event you become incompetent. The individual appointed in this document is granted the power to make deposits, pay bills, write checks and handle a wide variety of other financial matters on your behalf.
- Health care power of attorney
A health care power of attorney is a legal document in which you appoint a trusted person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. Decisions the appointed agent will control include your preferred healthcare staff, pain management methods and kinds of treatment.
- Last will and testament
Your will coordinates the distribution of your assets following your death. The document additionally appoints a personal representative to manage the administration of your estate and nominates a guardian for any minor children. An absence of a last will and testament results in your estate being distributed according to your state’s intestacy statutes. In this case, a court motion must be filed, and it becomes the court’s decision to appoint a guardian for your children, as well as a personal representative to handle the distribution of your estate.
Seeking the aid of a lawyer is crucial
Contacting an experienced lawyer at Walden Neitzke & Kuhary, S.C. to aid in drafting these documents is paramount. Without these basic documents directing your wishes, your final decisions could be put in the hands of the court and your state’s intestacy statutes. The best way is to ensure your estate plan is designed and executed properly is to work with an experienced estate planning lawyer.
We are more aware than ever that unexpected health matters can blindside us. We will aid you in preparing a comprehensive estate plan to ensure your wishes are carried out, and to save your loved ones from dealing with unnecessary court proceedings. These conversations might prove hard, but they are necessary in relieving your loved ones of future burdens. Please call for a consultation.