A will – or a “last will and testament” – is a legal document that tells the probate court how you want your property distributed after you die, and who has the power and responsibility to wrap up your affairs. Through the probate process the court will give the “executor” of your will the authority to gather all of your property, pay any remaining creditors’ bills, and distribute your remaining property as you specify in your will.
Because the will takes effect only after a court determined that it is a valid document, a judge must act before your executor can step in and manage your estate.
Who will make decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself? Who will have the power to sign documents on your behalf, or make sure your bills get paid?
Without a durable power of attorney, someone who is mentally incapacitated must be taken to guardianship or conservatorship court to have a decision maker named for them by a judge. A carefully written durable power of attorney will allow you to name someone you trust to make decisions for you if you become disabled to the point of no longer being able to make those decisions yourself.
A medical power of attorney allows your trusted friend or family member to make medical treatment decisions for you if you are unable to communicate your wishes to doctors. Without one, you must have a guardian or “conservator” of your person appointed by the court before decisions can be made on your behalf.
A medical power of attorney not only saves precious decision making time, but it also makes sure that the individual you trust the most has the power to make these most important decisions for you if you are unable to make the decisions on your own.
ones and others can access this information in addition to the personal representative.Planning Tip: Consider preparing a HIPAA Authorization for loved ones and others who potentially need access to your medical information if you become disabled. Your estate planning attorney can create such a HIPAA Authorization for you.