Powers of Attorney, Health Care Proxies, and Living Wills
Powers of attorney, health care proxies, living wills, and last will and testaments are terms that may be confusing to people who have not yet made an estate plan to express their final wishes. If you have questions about the purpose of these various documents or other estate planning or elder care issues, you should talk to an attorney sooner rather than later. Time tends to pass much faster than we think, and the time will come when it will be too late to take care of such important, personal matters in the privacy of an attorney’s office. Knowledgeable Nashville estate planning lawyer Randy Ratliff regularly assists people throughout Davidson and Williamson Counties with understanding how an effective estate plan may help minimize probate costs and tax consequences, as well as keeping private family matters from being played out in court later.
With about one in seven Americans over the age of 65, it is important to recognize the importance of planning not only for what will happen after one’s death but also for what may happen in one’s later years. In addition to a last will and testament or a trust to express one’s wishes with regard to the disbursement of assets upon death, there are other documents that may help plan for the control of one’s assets and health care needs in the event of a disability. This is where powers of attorney, health care proxies, and living wills may be of great benefit.The Importance of Powers of Attorney and Living Wills
Nobody is guaranteed a certain lifespan or quality of health. Obviously, there is a tendency toward failing health during the aging process, but even strong, healthy people may suffer a life-threatening or permanently disabling injury in the blink of an eye. If a disability clouds the mind beyond the point at which there is a capacity to understand the consequences of signing a legal document, such as a power of attorney or a health care proxy, it may be impossible to make one’s wishes known concerning matters such as whom one would want to make important decisions concerning health care or whether one would want the benefit of life-extending measures.
A living will may be used to express a person’s general desires concerning medical treatment in situations in which that person is unable to grant informed consent. This type of advance directive concerning end-of-life medical care is helpful not only to the health care community but also to an individual’s spouse, children, or other loved ones. Additionally, a health care proxy or durable power of attorney for health care may name a certain person to make decisions concerning your health care in the event of mental incapacity. The person named in the document – rather than a doctor – makes the final decision regarding when to terminate life support or other measures aimed at extending life beyond what would be possible under natural conditions.
Powers of attorney may also be used to appoint someone to make financial decisions in the event of the drafter’s unavailability. If such a document is “durable” in nature, it survives the drafter’s incapacity, allowing a designated individual to continue representing the drafter in business and legal matters. Without effective advance planning regarding these matters, an expensive and possibly contentious guardianship or conservatorship proceeding may be necessary later.Discuss Your Situation with an Estate Planning Attorney in Nashville
As difficult as it may be to think about the possibility of your eventual disability or death, the reality is that advance planning may not only allow a person more control over the dispersion of their assets at death but also save their family a considerable amount of time, money, and emotional hardship. To talk to a seasoned Nashville lawyer about powers of attorney, health care proxies, or living wills, call the Randy Ratliff Law Offices, PLLC, at 615-656-8282 or contact us online for an appointment. From our Brentwood offices, we serve people who need estate planning advice or a probate lawyer in communities such as Antioch, Hermitage, Madison, Goodlettsville, Joelton, Franklin, and Cool Springs.