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Tipping point: Deciding when to activate powers of attorney

Completing a will is a critical juncture in estate planning, but it may not be wise to make it the first and only step in the process. As we've covered on this blog, there are a handful of documents that can effectively stand alongside and support a will. Namely, creating power of attorney plans is a critical step for many people.

In the event that an individual is unable to make sound financial decisions on his or her own, designating a trusted individual to assume the role of financial caretaker is obviously important. After all, a will typically assigns assets and property to beneficiaries, so it's important to make sure they are carefully tended to by an honest person before the will is even administered.

One of the most important aspects about establishing powers of attorney is indicating when they will go into effect. Determining mental capacity often plays a role in activating powers of attorney, but that can also be a tricky aspect of estate planning. As such, some people may decide to put powers of attorney into effect as soon as the necessary documents are signed.

It may be helpful to understand what kind of flexibility is afforded by certain types of estate planning options. For example, putting powers of attorney into effect immediately can help address pointed, specific financial issues. This could help people address their individual needs.

Just like any other major financial decision, deciding who will manage your finances and when that person will assume the role shouldn't be taken lightly. Keeping this in mind, it may be beneficial to speak with an attorney who has experience dealing with these types of cases. This way, it may become clearer how to tailor power of attorney documents to each unique case.

To learn more, please visit our firm's durable power of attorney page.

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