As we get older and face the inevitable, we think not only about our own care and comfort at the end of life but also about the legacy we leave behind for our loved ones. Estate planning attorney Danielle Streed addresses these important elder law matters first by stressing the importance of executing medical and financial powers of attorney and second by assisting families through the important process of estate administration.
Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney and other Advance Directives
If you become incapacitated and unable to care for yourself or communicate your wishes to others, having advance directives in place will ensure that your personal care and finances are handled in a way you would want. Without direction from you, these questions only mean that your family will be forced to confront these issues in the midst of a crisis. Unfortunately, it could result in family fighting or disagreements over what you want. Ultimately, without direction, your family may not proceed how you would desire. A comprehensive estate plan should include some combination of the following:
- Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care - appoint a trusted health care proxy as your patient advocate to make decisions on your behalf
- Living Advance Directive/Living Will - provide guidance in the event you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious regarding whether you would want doctors to take heroic measures to prolong your life or provide for your comfort only; provide guidance regarding respirators, feeding tubes, and experimental treatments
- Do-Not-Resuscitate Declaration (DNR) - if your breathing and heartbeat were to stop, let the doctors and others know if you would want to be revived (consult your personal physician)
- Declaration of Anatomical Gift - if you wish to donate your organs to help others, this document outlines the extent of your gift
- Durable Power of Attorney for Finances - enable a trusted friend or family member to make financial decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so
Probate, trust administration
and other aspects of estate administration require a good deal of knowledge and expertise to give effect to the wishes of the testator in a timely manner and with a minimum of expense to the estate or its heirs and beneficiaries. Assets must be gathered and inventoried; some must be sold and others disbursed. Beneficiaries and creditors must be notified. Taxes and debts must be paid, and claims must be settled or resolved. All of this must take place in the proper orderly fashion before probate can be closed or the estate fully settled.
When you have lost a loved one, the myriad of items that must be addressed can be overwhelming. Please see our page on Funeral/Burial Information for a list of items to consider when making funeral or burial arrangements
. Then contact attorney Danielle Streed for assistance with all the legal matters required to assure a prompt estate administration with minimal stress or conflict.