The estate planning attorneys at Meyerson, Fox & Conte, P.A. represents individuals with the preparation of their Wills, Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxies/Living Wills. The drafting of these documents begins with a consultation with one of our attorneys. One of the objectives of the consultation is to ensure that our clients understand the significance and purpose of each of the three documents, namely the Will, Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy/Living Will. A brief review of each of these documents is provided below.
Last Will and Testament
A Last Will and Testament, or simply a “Will,” is a document that dictates how an individual’s personal property will be distributed upon death. A Will controls that portion of a person’s assets that are not controlled by a beneficiary designation where a specific individual is named. For example, it is often the case that the distribution of life insurance proceeds and retirement accounts are not distributed pursuant to a person’s Will, but according to the person specified as the beneficiary of the accounts. A Will is important because it allows a person control over who will manage their affairs after death and who will inherit their assets. For parents, it is critical to name a guardian for any minor children.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a document that allows a person to act on behalf of someone else in regards to financial matters. The Power of Attorney becomes very important in the event someone becomes unable to manage their own affairs. If a person cannot pay their own bills, file their own taxes or conduct their own banking, it can quickly become problematic. Without a Power of Attorney, a costly and time consuming guardianship application is needed in order for someone to become appointed to perform these responsibilities. A Power of Attorney often alleviates the need for a guardianship proceeding.
Health Care Proxy/Living Will
Like a Power of Attorney, a Health Care Proxy is a document that allows a person to nominate someone else to make decisions for them. While a Power of Attorney is for financial matters, a Health Care Proxy controls only a person’s health care decisions. At our firm, a Living Will is incorporated into the same document as the Health Care Proxy. The Living Will provides direction regarding end of life care when a person is no longer able to make decisions for themself.
The Will, Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy/Living Will are customized for each client’s particular situation. Before anything is signed, we review the documents with our clients and ensure that the clients’ decisions are reflected in the estate documents that had been prepared. We generally charge a flat rate for the preparation of the Will, Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy/Living Will. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact one of our estate attorneys today.