Medical advances have increased our life spans considerably and, with that advanced age comes new challenges. Second and third marriages are commonplace in modern society and it's not uncommon for a senior citizen parent to get remarried.
The process of estate planning may seem overwhelming to many families. They may know that a thorough estate plan is important, and be aware that there are a number of different important considerations and documents that may be included in the process, but may not always know what each estate planning tool refers to. One estate planning tool you may have heard of but wondered about and wanted to know more about is a power of attorney.
Despite its numerous and significant benefits, many people fail to make an estate plan until it is too late. An estate plan is not simply for the extraordinarily wealthy. In fact, there are many different aspects of an estate plan that are very important for nearly every individual, regardless of wealth. One of these elements is power of attorney. Designating a power of attorney can be useful in many different situations, but many people still fail to take advantage of this important legal tool.
Estate planning can be intimidating for many people because of its perceived complexity. Many people may also be confused about what "estate planning" really refers to because of the word "estate": they may think that it is something that only applies to those with considerable wealth or assets. Estate planning is for everyone, however, and has many different facets. One commonly overlooked, but very useful, component of estate planning is the power of attorney.
One of the main reasons that many people put off long-term planning is that they do not like to think about going through a time--whether temporary or permanent--when they are no longer able to make their own decisions and live according to those decisions. There are likely many aspects of your life that you prefer to control instead of relinquishing that power to other. Some key areas include our personal lives, financial matters, and medical care.
Estate planning can be difficult. It requires people to plan for events to take place after their death or for when they are no longer able to manage their own affairs the way they were accustomed to previously. Planning for these circumstances is very important, however, especially if people want to maintain their independence as long as possible and direct the way their affairs will be managed when they are no longer able to personally manage them. A power of attorney is a very useful tool to achieve these goals, but it is important to make a wise choice to avoid exploitation or other problems, as the story of one Michigan women recently revealed.
Although nobody hopes to be faced with life-threatening medical issues, it's a situation anybody could be forced to deal with at a moment's notice. Through this experience, people hope that they can make the most reasonable and thoughtful decisions. In some cases, people may not be able to make these decisions on their own behalf, particularly at the end of life.
One of the most talked-about news stories in recent years has centered around same-sex marriage. During this time, a wave of states has approved same-sex unions through legislative initiatives or court decisions. However, not every state recognizes same-sex unions, which obviously has implications for estate planning.
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.
Taking the time to make an estate plan is often a very big step for many people. No one likes to think about decisions related to the end of life, which is a sentiment that might be shared among many young people. However, failing to formalize critical plans -- especially in terms of health care -- can create a lot of frustration and pain for loved ones.