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Deciding who to appoint as power of attorney is a crucial point

There is a lot that a Michigan resident needs to do in order to put together a comprehensive estate plan. But, for the most part, there is one overarching requirement: making decisions. The process of estate planning is all about making decisions. From determining how to distribute assets to assessing the pros and cons of trusts, and much more, drafting and executing an estate plan is essentially a series of decisions to be made. However, some decisions are more important than others. For instance, how does a Michigan resident decide who to appoint to make decisions in their place?

As a recent article noted, this is where powers of attorney come into play. While an estate planner may be the driving force behind deciding who gets what from their accumulated assets, the power of attorney document is focused on picking a trusted family member, friend or colleague to make the tough decisions when the planner can't do it. In Michigan, the estate plan should include two separate documents.

First, there is the durable power of attorney. In this document the estate planner appoints someone to take care of all of the planner's financial concerns in the event that the planner becomes incapacitated. Through this document the appointed person can continue to honor the planner's financial commitments, and, in some cases, manage a business.

Next, there is the health care power of attorney. This document is intended to allow the estate planner a chance to appoint a patient advocate who will be empowered to make decisions regarding the planner's medical care in the event that the planner is incapacitated. In some cases, this document can be even more important than financial concerns, because no one wants to have their family members arguing over what type of medical care the estate planner "probably" wanted. The patient advocate will have the power to make the ultimate decision, as the estate planner intended.

Source: The MetroWest Daily News, "Beyond wills: other essential elements of an estate plan," Ruven Rodriguez, Nov. 3, 2013

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