A Will and Powers of Attorney
The Essentials for any Estate Planning
It is never too early to develop your estate plan. An estate plan is a comprehensive set of directions designed to assist others in understanding and implementing your desires in the event of your incapacity or death. A good estate plan will always include:
- A Will,
- A Durable Power of Attorney for financial decisions,
- A Durable Power of Attorney for health care, including a health care directive.
An estate plan may need to include a trust and often include the use of “transfer on death” or “payable on death” designations on assets.
Because each person has very different needs in this area, there are various tools in the estate planning area designed to accommodate the varied family structures and each person's individual asset mix. At Ahearn Kershman Law Firm, we focus on your circumstances and offer you personal guidance and recommendations to implement your wishes. We listen carefully to what you want, and we conduct a thorough review of your asset structure.
Powers of Attorney
Every adult, young or old, should have a Power of Attorney for Health Care decisions and a Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions so that you have a plan in place should you become disabled by illness or accident. The person you appoint in these documents to make your decisions in the even you are unable is called your “agent.”
A Power of Attorney for Health Care in Missouri should also contain a Health Care Directive which is the portion of the document that will give your agent directions as to when you would like certain medical treatments or procedures to continue and when you would like certain medical procedures or treatments to stop. You may choose whether one doctor or two doctors are necessary to determine whether the power of attorney becomes effective. In addition to this document, you will need to execute a HIPPA release to your health care agent.
A Durable Power for Financial Decisions will permit your appointed agent to pay your bills and maintain your financial situation in the event you are unable. A Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions may be necessary because of illness, or it may be more convenient to have someone else help you manage your finances. Or you may want to travel and still make sure someone is paying your bills and watching out for your property back home.
If you become ill or disabled and do not have the appropriate Powers of Attorney, then the local Probate Court may have to appoint a Guardian or Conservator to make your medical and other decisions and to take charge of your assets and manage your financial life. This person will be someone the Court chooses. It will not necessarily be the person you would have picked. If you have a Power of Attorney, the law requires the Probate Court to consider the choices you made and honor them if possible. In addition, if you do not have a medical power of attorney with a health care directive and HIPPA release, you may end up with multiple family members fighting over your medical care and treatment procedures.
In addition, as a parent, you may need to execute a temporary delegation of your parental rights if you are traveling without your child or if you are unable to be personally present with your child in a location that requires your personal presence (e.g., physician's office). By a properly executed power of attorney, you may delegate to another individual, for a period not exceeding one year, any of your powers regarding the care or custody of your minor child, except you may not delegate your power to consent to the marriage or adoption of your minor child.