A proper estate plan must address all possible situations. One area that is often overlooked by clients and their attorneys is disability. If you are unable to manage your financial or healthcare decisions, who will? Under what authority? With what instructions? Advance directives are tools to address these important concerns.
Durable Powers of Attorney
A durable power of attorney (sometimes called a DPoA) is a written document that specifically gives authorization to others to act on your behalf. It is very common for more than one person to hold such a power. The DPoA typically gives the holders the ability to buy, sell, or lease assets, sue on your behalf, collect from creditors, and even operate your business. The DPoA also usually grants certain tax powers such as the right to sign and file income tax returns and the right to make or disclaim gifts. You can create a DPoA, called a "springing durable power of attorney" that "springs," or becomes effective, only if and when you become incapacitated.
Healthcare Durable Power of Attorney
A healthcare durable power of attorney is a document that allows a person or persons of your choosing to make your medical decisions for you if you cannot. It covers decisions on issues that may arise before you are terminally ill—such as operations, transfusions, nursing care, various treatments, and tube feeding. Also, it provides health care providers with your permission to disclose to your chosen agents your medical information which is essential to assist in correct decision making.
A living will, also sometimes called a medical directive, is a document in which you can state whether or not life-sustaining procedures should be used to prolong your life. With modern medical technology improving by the minute, the possibility of prolonging life can go far beyond what we've ever imagined. Yet many people do not want to suffer the loss of their dignity and possibly their net worth as the necessary payment for prolonging their lives when death is imminent and irreversible. In short, they want to retain the right to control decisions regarding their medical care, including the withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining procedures. The living will laws typically contain safeguards to ensure peace of mind, such as a requirement that two physicians examine the patient and determine that recovery is no longer likely before life-sustaining treatments may be withdrawn. A living will also may set forth more specific provisions than those established by law.
A living will can be revoked at any time by destroying it, directing its destruction, or signing a written revocation.
Assured Access to Advance Directives
Because at Iden Law Offices, we want to be certain that your planning decisions will work for you when you need them, we enroll our clients in a program which maintains an electronic copy of your key advance directives, and you carry an "Emergency Medical Information Card" in your wallet which provides authorized medical care givers access to your advance directives from anywhere in the world, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
For Your Adult Children
We also assist young adults by providing advanced directives to authorize their parents' access to key information at times of crisis (through our College Kit).