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Estate Planning Basics
Three Useful Legal Tools to Help You and Your Family
With proper planning, the following three legal "tools" can save your family stress and ensure that your wishes are carried out both financially and medically in the event you become incapacitated by a life-changing event.
Financial Power of Attorney.
A financial power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives a trusted person the authority to handle your finances in the event that you cannot do so yourself. You determine what event triggers the use of a POA, such as incapacity from an injury or illness – usually as determined by one or more doctors. A POA can pay your bills, buy and sell assets, collect government benefits, sign income tax returns, and more. This person can be a family member, close friend, attorney or accountant—anyone you trust with your finances.
Medical Power of Attorney.
Under a medical power of attorney, an agent (usually a close family member or friend) is given the power to make a wide range of health care decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so due to physical or mental incapacity.
These are instructions for your doctor and family that state your wishes for or against the use of artificial means or heroic measures to prolong your life. This document is a clear health care directive regarding end of life care, to be used when your wishes can no longer be personally communicated.
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