Every estate plan should include not only a Last Will and Testament or Revocable Living Trust, but a Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will as well. If you cannot make your own medical decision or need assistance managing your assets while you are alive, these documents need to be in place so that someone can legally help you and carry out your wishes.
Having an attorney by your side when creating your estate plan can help ensure that you do not look over an important part of your estate plan. Contact attorney Sabrina Winters today to get started on your Charlotte estate plan.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that is used to give someone else the authority to take actions on your behalf, such as signing your checks to pay your bills or selling a particular piece of real estate for you for example. It can be general in nature so that you can give broad powers to the person, or you can limit the powers given so that only specific actions are permitted to take place on your behalf.
Durable Power of Attorney:
Most Powers of Attorney will terminate if you become incapacitated. However, if the Power of Attorney is Durable, it will remain valid and in effect even if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself. The Power of Attorney must specifically state that the powers will be durable and remain in effect during your incapacity, should you take ill or be unable to make decisions for yourself otherwise the powers will terminate.
Durable Health Care Power of Attorney:
You should also have what is known as a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney so that you can appoint someone you trust to act as your health care agent and make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so for yourself. Your agent essentially steps into your shoes and makes medical decisions on your behalf based on your wishes and your wishes only.
Organ Donation Designations
It is so important as well to include your cremation, burial and/or organ donation wishes in your healthcare power of attorney. If you do not wish to have your organs donated, you should make this statement clear. If you do wish to donate your organs to a certain person, or under certain circumstances or limit the organs to be donated, this is the document to do it in. If your wish is that your organs be donated to a certain school or institution, I would advise speaking with them first. There may be, and often are, specific guidelines to follow now and not so much after your death. You can read more about cadaver donations on our recent blog post…Eww…cadaver donations? In addition, there are cremation documents that can be completed at your local funeral home as well. Being as specific as possible with your wishes and sharing this with family and friends is imperative. Remember, the ultimate goal is to have your wishes followed. Do what you can now to make certain that happens.
Who do you name as your agent?
This person could be your spouse, your child or a close friend. Name a person you trust and whom will be able to step into your shoes and make the decisions you would make if you could do it yourself. Medical decisions are emotionally difficult to make, even if they are being made pursuant to your desires. Knowing that someone is already in place to carry out your wishes will give you peace of mind.
Having these document prepared before you become ill not only shows that you care for your family but that you do not wish to make a difficult time in their lives any more difficult. It is not the best laid out plan to prepare these documents in a time of crisis or imminent need. Pre-planning will allow your family to be able to immediately start taking care of you and your needs.
Declaration of a Desire for a Natural Death (Living Will)
A Living Will is essentially a statement by you to the world that if your condition is determined to be terminal and incurable you do not want your life prolonged by extraordinary means such as artificial nutrition or hydration, or other life sustaining procedures.
This document directs and authorizes the physician to withhold and discontinue extraordinary means. The procedures and treatments to be withheld and withdrawn may include surgery, antibiotics, CPR, and artificially administered feeding and fluids. The treatment is typically limited to measures that comfort and relieve pain, even if such measures will shorten your life.
Thinking about our death is difficult. But, putting in place now the means for your wishes to be respected is well worth it in the long run when it comes time for your family to refuse medical treatment on your behalf, if necessary. To get this process started contact Attorney Sabrina Winters.
IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER…
The important piece of information to always remember is that whomever you chose, you need to trust them and that they will follow your wishes. Always ask that person first prior to naming them if they are willing to do so. The worst thing that can happen is that your named agent cannot or will not follow your wishes when the time comes.