Appleton Wisconsin Probate, Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning Attorneys, Kevin Davidson of The Estate Planning Group / Davidson Law Office,LLP discusses important documents and considerations for protecting your family and your assets, as well as Wisconsin Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning and Asset Protection issues.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Why are Powers of Attorney so Important?
We often receive phone calls inquiring about updating their
will or trust.While undoubtedly important,
these documents generally only address one event, namely what happens to your
assets when you pass away.
Equally important, but often overlooked, is protecting
yourself and your family from financial and health care emergencies during your
lifetime.Properly drafted, Powers of
Attorney can safeguard you from emergencies that may strike when you least
Everyone over 18 should complete both a Health Care and
Financial Power of Attorney (P.O.A.).While
surprising to most people, the Wisconsin Statutes do not make a parent, a
spouse, a relative or family member the default decision maker for anyone over
18.The only alternative is oftentimes a
costly and stressful legal proceeding involving the courts.
Each Power of Attorney document, in effect, nominates
another person (your "agent") to legally make decisions for you.
A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to designate an
agent to discuss your condition with your doctor and make medical decisions
according to your wishes when you are unable to communicate those desires.
A Financial Power of Attorney names an agent who can make
financial and other non-medical decisions.An agent’s authority can be immediate at the time of signing the
document or it can take effect only in the event of "incapacity"–that
is, when you are unable to act for yourself.
Undoubtedly, the role of agent is an important responsibility
that should not be lightly considered.So,
who should you choose as your agent?
Naming an individual who shares your same values and beliefs
can help ensure your wishes are followed.We also suggest discussing with your agent any specific health or
financial priorities and wishes you may have.This conversation helps to avoid future questions about your goals and
objectives when your agent is called upon to act.
Both a Health Care P.O.A. and a Financial P.O.A. can
eliminate future conflict by laying out your wishes and designating someone to
make decisions when you cannot.These
should be a key part of your estate plan.