Estate Planning is a thoughtful and responsible way to ease the burden of your loved ones if you become incapacitated or after your passing. A Will along with non-probate transfers can help avoid probate fees and protect your family. At The Harshman Law Firm, we recommend that everyone have at least a Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Directives, and Health Care Power of Attorney. These legal documents can help your loved ones avoid uncertainty and conflict.
A Will is a legal document that devises property to a person's heirs and most importantly for parents with minor children, names the Guardians for minor children under the age of 18. Be advised that a Court will still have to formally appoint the Guardians of any minor children, however, naming these Guardians in your Will simplifies the process. Also, if any minor children are to inherit any property or money a Conservator will likely need to be appointed by the Court unless you have a Trust.
A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints a person to act in your place. Durable means that the powers of the person you have chosen remain in effect in the event that you become incapacitated or unable to handle matters on your own. A Non-Durable Power of Attorney automatically terminates upon a person losing mental capacity. The person you have chosen to handle your affairs may have the power to pay bills, manage assets, handle financial accounts, and more. You could also execute a Limited Power of Attorney for one specific purpose such as to sell a home or vehicle.
A Health Care Directive also known as a Living Will is a legal document that sets out your wishes with regard to your medical care in the event that you are too ill to direct your own care. This is the document where you tell your doctors to "pull the plug" under specific circumstances. Many clients will state that they do not wish to remain on life support in the event that at least two licensed treating medical physicians determine that there is no reasonable liklihood of recovery.
A Durable Health Care Power of Attorney should always accompany the Health Care Directive. This legal document appoints a trusted person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to communicate these choices on your own.