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Why are powers of attorney useful in an estate plan?

Deciding to draft an estate plan is a major decision, but it is also a very useful and important step to take. No matter your age, individuals in Michigan and elsewhere should take the time to assess their situation and determine what is best for them later in life. Making end-of-life decisions is not easy for anyone, but it has become a necessary step to ensure our needs and interests are protected.

While a living will is an important document to draft when it comes to estate planning, there are other documents that can supplement a will or even provide a vital role on its own. Thus, individuals should consider the role a power of attorney could play and why it is important to include them.

Why are powers of attorney useful in an estate plan? A power of attorney for healthcare is a very resourceful document to draft. The goal of this document is to designate an agent, likely a close family member or friend, who will make decisions that are not covered by a living will. This means that the agent cannot make healthcare decisions that would overrule or conflict with the terms and provisions of the living will. The agent may only supplement the testator's wishes if something that was not anticipated in a living will comes into play.

A power of attorney could also designate an agent for financial decisions. This means that they can manage and control the money of the testator if it is deemed that the testator is incapacitated. It should be noted, however, that the roles and decisions of a financial agent and a healthcare agent could conflict. Thus, it is best to designate agents who will likely work well together and keep the best interests of the testator in mind.

While it is never easy to think about life after death or the possibility of becoming incapacitated, it is important to understand what steps individuals could take to meet their needs and protect their interests. A power of attorney could provide a wide variety of uses in the estate planning process.

Source: Findlaw.com, "The Power of Attorney, Living Will and Your Healthcare," accessed May 6, 2017

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