4 Key Documents (Part I)
Here are 4 key documents that are necessary to have in place to help protect you and your estate. (Regardless of how much money you have or don’t have) We will discuss the first one today.
Property Power of Attorney – Who makes the decisions for you if you can’t make the decisions for yourself? I have often heard people say something like, “We have been married for 50 years! I know what he / she wants. While this may be true, if you don’t have a person designated in writing as your attorney in fact (often referred to as power of attorney or POA) then the person you want to act for you may not be able to do so. This is one of the predominant issues that we encounter in our elder law practice. Most people have not done in estate planning at all, and if they even have a power of attorney, it is usually inadequate.
Another issue is competency. You must be competent to sign documents and understand what you are signing. It seems obvious if you think about it, but capacity is a slippery slope. When it’t gone, it is gone! Many people wait too late. We often have family members bring in a parent or spouse who no longer has the capacity to sign. In this case, a court ordered guardianship will often be required. In a guardianship proceeding, the Court will decide who makes your decisions for you. If you don’t designate your decision maker in writing while you are competent to do so, then you will have forfeited the right to choose.
Next week we will talk about the 2nd key document. In the meantime, we will be happy to mail you (free of charge) a recently recorded audio CD, labeled ‘4 Key Documents’. If you are an Arkansas resident, you may request this free audio CD, simply by sending an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the email, make sure to leave your name and mailing address.