The Bob Leonard Law Group prepares estate planning documents for individuals and couples needing a wide range of services. Depending upon the size of the estate and the circumstances of the people involved, the estate planning documents typically include:
- Last Will and Testament
- Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
- Medical Power of Attorney
- Directive to Physicians
- Designation of Guardian
The purpose for a Last Will and Testament is fairly obvious. They can vary greatly, however, depending on whether the estate is subject to federal estate taxes. They can also vary greatly depending upon the circumstances of the families involved. For example, if one of the children and beneficiaries is incapacitated or a spendthrift then you might want to take extra precautions to protect your estate. Most wills are fairly straightforward and simple, however if the need arises, we can prepare wills that are quite complicated. Some will include trusts that are necessary to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled.
A Statutory Durable Power Of Attorney is a document that will allow another person to make financial decisions for you. It can be effective immediately or it can be effective only if you become disabled. Most people choose the latter. The powers granted to the other person can be very broad and include any financial transaction that you might possibly have or can be very narrow and include only a few types of transactions.
A Medical Power Of Attorney allows another person to make medical decisions for you. These are almost always effective only when someone becomes incapacitated and unable to make those decisions for himself or herself. Again specific powers can be broad or narrow but most people draft these so that the person with the decision making power can do anything necessary.
A Directive to Physicians is sometimes referred as a "living will". With this document you can let doctors and other people know what you would like to happen if you have a terminal or irreversible condition and do not have the ability to make those decisions for yourself.
It is hopeful that should someone become incapacitated the statutory durable power of attorney and the medical power of attorney will suffice to allow someone (or more than one person) to take charge of a person's life sufficiently to avoid the necessity of a guardianship should the person become incapacitated. On rare occasions, however, they do not do that and a guardianship is required. Guardianships are time consuming and expensive so they are best avoided; however, sometimes there is no choice. For those times, someone can execute a Declaration of Guarding.
Declaration Of Guardian allows you to choose the person that you would want to handle your affairs in the event of incapacity. A guardianship can consist of a guardianship of the estate, of the person, or both. You should note, however, that if the person you designate is not qualified or if there is some other problem, the court still could override your desires.
There are many other documents that you could sign such as a designation of an appointment of guardian for your children, an appointment of an agent to dispose of your remains, a do not resuscitate order, and an organ donation designation. While most people do not normally have one of these or other documents, discuss them with your attorney so you can see if they might be appropriate in your particular case.