Articles Tagged with Durable Power of Attorney

There is a common misconception amongst lower- and middle-class families that estate planning is only for the wealthy. They assume if they do not have many assets—if any—to give to loved ones, there is no point in having a will in place. However, this is not the case. Everyone should draft an estate plan, regardless of their financial or family situation. There are multiple documents that should be included in an estate plan in order to remove a family’s stress in navigating life after a person’s death.

A Last Will and Testament 

A last will and testament, or a will, is the most important estate planning document a person can have. A will explains how assets should be handled after a person passes away. The will should also state who should be given the assets—these individuals are called beneficiaries. If all assets are not being left to the same person, the document should clearly state who is receiving what assets and property. Additionally, the will should name an individual to administer the estate; this person is called the executor of the will. If the drafter of the will has any minor children, it is also important to name a guardian for their children. This limits the potential for disputes, where family is fighting over who is the legal guardian of the child.

Estate planning and advanced directives are a critical step that Texans can take to ensure that their wishes are effectuated if they become incapacitated or pass away unexpectedly. Estate planning is essential for all individuals, despite their wealth or age. Although, in some cases, Texas law provides residents with tools to create these documents on their own, it is vital that individuals consult with a Houston estate planning attorney to make sure that their documents are valid.

In creating Houston advanced care documents, individuals should include both health-related and financial planning directives. The three most essential parts of a person’s health-related advance planning documents are a medical power of attorney designation, directive to physicians (living will), and out-of-hospital do-not-resuscitate (DNR) instructions. These documents will provide doctors, healthcare providers, and family members with guidance on how to proceed with a loved one’s care. They remain in effect unless an individual revokes or changes them.

Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA)

7.10.19Having a durable power of attorney in place makes sense for some people. If you unexpectedly became ill or incapacitated, this would allow someone to take over your finances, including paying bills, checking on investments and managing the business side of your life.

A power of attorney is a legal document that lets an individual name another person or a financial institution to handle financial transactions for another person. The person who is given power of attorney, who becomes the individual’s “agent,” has a lot of responsibility, says WMUR’s recent article, “Why you need a financial durable power of attorney.” When there is no power of attorney in place, the spouse or family will need to go to court, before they can act on their loved one’s behalf.

Whether you’re young, elderly, single or married, it’s a good idea for everyone to have a power of attorney. For married couples, while your spouse can usually take care of the basic finances, many financial transactions require both spouses’ signatures. For those assets in your name only, your spouse will have no access.

HurricaneHarvey 8.31.17Many people have heard of Powers of Attorney, and now, during this time of unprecedented disaster and flood, these two documents are more important than ever. There are two Powers of Attorney – the Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney and the Medical Power of Attorney.

The Durable Power Attorney allows you to name someone as your “agent” who can act for you on any financial or other asset-related action that you have authorized. For example, you may have an elder parent who may have been evacuated from an assisted living facility and cannot access their bank accounts, or, you yourself may have been evacuated and the last thing on your mind is how to pay certain bills. With a Durable Power of Attorney in place, the person you name as your agent can act for you and alleviate that pressure, so that you can focus on you and your family’s recovery.

A Medical Power of Attorney works in a similar manner. A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to name someone as your “agent” to make medical decisions for you. For example, say you were injured while evacuating or in a car wreck and could not make medical decisions for yourself. By nominating an agent, that person could make decisions regarding your treatment. Conversely, if you have an elder parent, they could name you as their agent and you could make decisions regarding their treatment. Having a Medical Power of Attorney may relieve your caregivers and loved ones from some of the hoops they would have to jump through to otherwise ensure that you would receive proper care.

6.29.16If a financial institution does not accept a properly prepared power of attorney, you will have to know your rights and be prepared to assert yourself.

A power of attorney is an estate planning basic; however, more often than you would expect, people find themselves being told by financial institutions that they will not accept the power of attorney. It’s such a problem that a number of states have enacted laws to protect the power of attorney.

This form gives a designated person the authority to act on another’s behalf when making financial decisions. It is commonly employed by adult children whose aging parents can no longer act on their own. However, financial institutions frequently make it difficult to exercise that power. The Wall Street Journal article, “When the Power of Attorney Lacks Power,” lists some steps to avoid potential problems.

Th (2)Stop saying everyone knows what you want. Everybody probably doesn’t know. Or in their grief, they may not be able to make the decisions you would have preferred. If you don’t leave written instructions, emotions or unresolved issues can get in the way.

The amount of frustration a family goes through when someone’s affairs are not in order and not in writing is beyond measure. When tragedy strikes or life takes over, the importance of planning is not lost on those who realize there were no plans made. What can you really do after the fact? Proper planning needs to happen now.

For an impassioned voice on the matter and some advice you should heed, be sure to read a recent commentary published in The Washington Post titled “Put your estate plan on paper before it’s too late.

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