The Importance of Wills, Living Wills, and Powers of Attorney

The Importance of Wills, Living Wills, and Powers of Attorney

July 13, 2022

Life happens and we never really know if or when something drastic may happen in our lives. That’s why it is so important to be prepared. Working with our clients on their financial well-being also means helping to ensure that your estate planning is also in order.  There are three important documents that everyone should have in place: a will, a living will, and powers of attorney.

Having these documents in place in the event of an emergency can make things much easier for your family and loved ones in times of stress or grief. We like to call this the gift of preparedness. So, what are these documents and why do you need them? Let’s start with the basics.

  • A will is a document that states your wishes regarding the distribution of your property after you die.
  • A living will is a document that states your specific wishes regarding life-sustaining medical care if you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions yourself.
  • A power of attorney is a document that appoints someone to make legally binding decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.

How does a will help?

Having a will in place ensures your estate is distributed in the way you want it to be. When writing your will you should take time to consider your larger assets but also your smaller assets. Personal items often can create undo sentimental stress to your family and are often overlooked in estate planning. Having a will can also help plan for and reduce taxes, and it can make the probate process more efficient. If something happens and you don’t have a will, your property will be distributed according to state law, which may not be what you want and could be costly to your family.

Why do you need a living will?

The benefit of having a living will is that it ensures your end-of-life choices on medical care are carried out in a way that your choose. It takes some of the burden of decision-making off your loved ones during a stressful time. If something happens and you don’t have a living will, your loved ones will have to make decisions about your medical care for you.  This can sometimes cause more emotional stress if there are family members that don’t agree on what your medical care should be.

What are the benefits of having a Power of Attorney?

By appointing someone you trust as your power of attorney, you can rest easy knowing that they will follow your medical wishes and maintain your financial security should you become incapacitated. If you don’t have a power of attorney in place, the state will appoint someone to manage your assets, pay bills and choose medical care for you.  There are several different types of power of attorney, so you should talk to your estate planning attorney about which type is right for you.

No one knows when their time will come or when unexpected events might happen, but having a will, a living will, and a power of attorney in place can give you peace of mind that your wishes will be followed.  If you don’t have these documents in place now, you may want to meet with an estate planning attorney to help ensure that you have the appropriate documents in place. If you have questions about your estate planning, please contact our office.  We can help ensure you have the appropriate resources available to bring the gift of preparedness to your family.