It is an unfortunate circumstance that many people often do not establish an estate plan until it is too late. Whether you are eighteen or eighty, do not be fooled into thinking that this is something that can wait. Creating an estate plan that fits your unique needs will provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind that your affairs will be well taken care of in the event you become incapacitated, either temporarily or permanently.
Further, do not wait until the first signs of illness or mental incapacity occur. In this instance, it may be too late. One estate planning option, a durable power of attorney, allows you to outline your wants and needs at any age. By making the power of attorney “durable,” the provisions you previously established remain in effect in the event you become unable to make decisions for yourself.
Let us share some of the benefits of establishing a durable power of attorney, so you are better informed about the planning options available to you.
1. You retain control over the document until you are unable to make decisions.
A primary component of creating a durable power of attorney is the power it gives you to designate an agent. You, as the creator, have complete control over who you choose to appoint as your agent and the authority you want him or her to have when it comes to making decisions on your behalf. Some of these responsibilities can include opening your mail, having access to all of your accounts, and even creating an emergency estate plan for you, if necessary. Be sure to choose someone you trust implicitly with each of these responsibilities.
2. You may enjoy a level of asset protection.
As with most estate planning options, a durable power of attorney can provide a level of protection for your assets. By discussing your durable power of attorney document with an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney, you can try to protect your property from reaching the hands of creditors. This can include planning tools that can help you avoid long-term care creditors should you need assistance later in life from a skilled nursing home or assisted living facility. Your attorney can also ensure your document adheres to state execution requirements that you may not be aware of.
3. You can outline your wishes and help alleviate the stress of your loved ones.
If certain responsibilities are left undesignated or unaddressed through your durable power of attorney document, your loved ones may be forced to turn to the court to seek authority to act for you. This proceeding of guardianship and conservatorship can be long and expensive, and will put your loved ones through unnecessary stress. At the end of this process, the court may appoint a person or entity to handle your affairs. You can avoid this stress and retain some control by creating your durable power of attorney. Through this document you can ensure your wishes are organized and clearly laid out, and you have designated an agent of your choice. This will help your loved ones have peace of mind that your affairs are being handled in a way you would be comfortable with.
These are just a few of the advantages of setting up a durable power of attorney. Do you have questions? Do not wait to contact our local legal team. We are the estate planning attorneys here to help you.