Many people have thought about a Last Will or Revocable Living Trust when it comes to who will get their assets when they die, but another important part of a comprehensive estate plan is what happens to you while your living, so the inclusion of Powers of Attorney and Advanced Medical Directives (Living Wills) are also a critical part of every good estate plan.
If tomorrow you were rendered unable to make sound decisions because of a massive stroke or a car accident, would your wishes be honored? Could you stay in your home with medical assistance or would be you be put in a assisted living home? If staying in your home were impractical and too expensive and it was your preference to move in with your daughter, how could you sell your home if you are mentally incapacitated due to Alzheimer's or Dementia. Will the courts decide these things or will you? Would it require a court order to be able to sell your home? In many cases, sadly the answer is "Yes". That's doesn't have to happen to you.
A General Power of Attorney allows you to select who will makes financial decisions for you, but you can give them directions as to how you would be treated, where you would live and make sure your care was in accordance with your previously stated wishes. However, without these important "incapacity documents", you could have the "state" making those decisions for you through the courts. This is known as a "Living Probate" where the court declares you incompetent and the court appoints a "conservator" to manage your estate and again the courts decides how your money is spent. This is not only costly, but you have no control in the matter.
Who will speak for you when it comes to your health care wishes, if you are temporarily unconscious or permanently mentally impaired? Who would decide your "end of life choices" regarding feeding tubes, respirators, or being artificially kept alive. Many people remember the sad real life story of Terry Schiavo, who because she didn't have a "Medical Power of Attorney" or "Advanced Directive" after a 15 year court battle was subject to the courts (the state of Florida, in her case) deciding the final outcome.
You can avoid those concerns by making the proper choices ahead of time. These Powers of Attorney and Advanced Medical Directives are all included in our Revocable Living Trust Estate Plan package. Whatever you do, who ever you work with, these documents should be a part of your estate plan.