What You Need to Know About Living Wills and Powers of Attorney

What You Need to Know About Living Wills and Powers of AttorneyThere are several vital documents that can give you and your family peace of mind and help make end-of-life-decisions easier. Estate planning lawyers usually recommend that clients make a living will and separate durable powers of attorney for health care and finances. Having these documents in place in the event of your incapacitation can ensure that your wishes are carried out as specified and can help your loved ones make difficult decisions with minimal conflict.

Living Will

Also known as an advance directive in Pennsylvania, a living will outlines the type of medical care you want (or do not want) in the event that you are incapacitated or unable to communicate your wishes. Although a living will can be general, making it very specific can cut down on family disagreements and ensure that end-of-life decisions are carried out according to your wishes. To ensure all important issues are covered, it is critical to have an attorney for wills and trusts assist you with drafting both your living will and powers of attorney.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

In a power of attorney for health care, you designate someone to make medical decisions for you. A durable power of attorney for health care only springs into action in the event that you are unable to make health care decisions for yourself and ends in the event of your death. Your agent cannot override any of the provisions specified in your living will, but they can make certain decisions if the circumstances are something you did not anticipate in your living will. Whether it is a spouse, relative, partner or close friend, it is important to choose a trusted person who knows you well and will assert your desires for health care should any issues arise.

Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

A power of attorney for finances enables an agent to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to. To avoid problems, it is important to select a trusted, reliable agent who works well with the person named in your power of attorney for health care. You can give your agent broad power to handle your finances or specify which types of financial tasks or issues you want them to take care of. You may want to give them the authority to pay bills and expenses, buy or sell real estate, pay property and income taxes, collect Social Security or other benefits, manage retirement and bank accounts, and invest in stocks, bonds or mutual funds.

If you own a business, you can also designate your agent’s role in running it in the event that you cannot. However, business succession planning lawyers recommend that you already have a solid exit plan in place to avoid confusion or conflict upon your incapacitation or death.

Do you need help with estate planning, creating a living will, or other legal matters? Our law firm in West Chester can help.