The importance of having a will has been well publicized. We often hear media reports of famous people dying without a will. The latest being Zappos founder Tony Hsieh. However, there are important documents that every person should have that deal with matters while you are alive. Those documents are an Enduring Power of Attorney and a Personal Directive.
An Enduring Power of Attorney is a document that deals with financial matters. An Enduring Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to manage your financial affairs in the event you are mentally incapable of managing those affairs. The Enduring Power of Attorney can be drafted so that it does not come into effect until one or more licensed physicians determine that you are mentally incapable of managing your financial affairs. At that time the Enduring Power of Attorney “springs” into effect and the person you appoint can manage your financial affairs.
Often we think that an Enduring Power of Attorney is something that you do not need until you are elderly. That is not always the case. There are numerous situations where a younger person may require an Enduring Power of Attorney even if that person has a spouse. For example, if a younger person suffers an injury, such as traumatic brain injury, an Enduring Power of Attorney may be needed to manage that person’s financial affairs. This includes applying for insurance benefits and short term and long term disability. If there is no Enduring Power of Attorney then someone has to make an application to Court to be appointed the injured person’s trustee. This can be time consuming and expensive.
A Personal Directive (sometimes called a Living Will) is a document that deals with non-financial personal matters, such as medical treatment. A Personal Directive allows you to appoint someone to make those types of decisions for you if you are not mentally capable of making those decisions. Again, this is not just something for the elderly. To take the same example, a person that suffers a brain injury in an accident may need a Personal Directive to make non-financial decisions. This includes decisions regarding medical treatment and where that person will live. If there is no Personal Directive then someone has to make an application to Court to be appointed that person’s guardian. An application to Court can be time consuming and expensive.
At Fric, Lowenstein & Co. LLP we prepare Enduring Powers of Attorney and Personal Directives to ensure that a valid document is in place when you need it most. The fee to prepare these documents is much less expensive than a Court application. It can also relieve the burden on your loved ones in a time of crisis. Contact us now to prepare an Enduring Power of Attorney.