Overwhelmed by Estate Planning? Take a Breath. Start Here.
For any number of reasons, you may not be ready to delve into creating a comprehensive estate plan. But even if this is the case, consider getting these three important documents in place.
1. Health Care Power of Attorney
Creating a health care power of attorney, you appoint someone (known as your health care agent) and authorize that person to direct your medical care if you become incapacitated. It can be paired with a living will in which you are able to provide instructions about your medical care if you become incapacitated. You have the opportunity both to decide who will make your healthcare decisions and provide your decisionmaker with the guidelines you arrange. Having these instructions in place, means important treatment decisions can be made based on the instructions you have given. For example, if you are unconscious and a decision needs to be made about a risky surgery, a healthcare power of attorney provides your healthcare team with some insights about what decision you would make if you were able.
If you do not have a health care power of attorney in place, who will make your healthcare decisions on your behalf is up in the air and subject to court intervention. If there is a disagreement about your care, the courts may become involved in the court battle. If you are in a long-term, committed relationship that is not recognized by the government through marriage or a family relationship, naming a healthcare agent is especially important.
2. Living Will
Part two of your healthcare security is a living will. As discussed above, this informs your agent of your wishes. Again, having these instructions in place, important treatment decisions can be made based on the instructions you have given. If end-of-life is imminent, a living will can help direct whether you receive ongoing treatment in the hospital or palliative care at home. It spells out what medical treatment you would or would not want to be used to keep you alive for end-of-life care decisions. These decisions can be exceedingly difficult to make on someone else’s behalf. By putting a living will in place, you will be providing your appointed decisionmaker with some guidance and, in turn, some peace of mind as they make difficult decisions on your behalf. Using the Healthcare Power of Attorney, and if the time comes that two independent doctors have determined that you are basically deceased and only being kept alive though machines, your Living Will takes the burden off their shoulders; your voice through the Living Will directs that you be taken off life support and that you be made comfortable.
3. Financial Power of Attorney
In addition to healthcare decisions, someone will also need to look after your finances if you become incapacitated. Your rent, bills, or mortgage will still need to be paid. Your medical bills will need to be reviewed and paid; the electric bill will need to be paid. And so on.
Creating a financial power of attorney, you appoint someone (known as an agent) and authorize that person to manage your finances if you become incapacitated. Using this authority, the financial agent you appoint can access your financial accounts and make the decisions necessary to ensure that your bills are paid while you are incapacitated.
Work with a Virginia Estate Planning Attorney
We can help you get these three documents in place. It is a great start toward planning for your future. When you are ready to work on your comprehensive estate plan, we will be ready too. Contact Wilson Law PLC today at 866-603-5976 to set up a meeting or fill out our contact form and we will call you to schedule your meeting.