I’m often asked if a person needs a Power of Attorney document if that person already has a Last Will and Testament (“Will”). It is a good question. The simple answer for almost everyone is yes – you should have both a Will and a Power of Attorney document. Let’s look at what purpose each serve and why both are necessary.
Often, clients have asked whether this authorization should be in their Last Will and Testament (“Will”). Your Will is a document that is rarely looked at by anyone other than you until after your death – and certainly your doctor or attending health care providers at a hospital are unlikely to have ever read your will.
Estate planning consist primarily in putting into place those legal documents that each of us need to deal with what happens if we become incapacitated and what happens when we die. If you have estate planning documents in place and have any doubt about whether those documents are complete or up to date, the best thing you could do is bring them to an estate planning attorney to review and discuss with you. Some law firms, like mine, may do this for you without charge as a complimentary consultation. Getting an expert’s advice on the status of your documents is very valuable.
My clients frequently express to me how difficult it can be to speak to their family members about the decisions they have made (or are in the process of making) when we are working on their estate planning documents. Sometimes the issue is that a parent’s adult children refuse to discuss these matters because the children are not willing to acknowledge that their parent will die at some point. Other times the issue is a child that cannot get their parents to acknowledge the need to get their affairs in order. The unique dynamics that every family has can often compound the general problem of one person or the other not wanting to discuss these matters. Last week we examined the first of the two situations I’ve mentioned above. Today, let’s look at some ideas for adult children on how to motivate their parents to get estate planning in order.