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  • Tammy Dusharm

The Importance of Estate Planning

Estate planning is an invaluable investment in your future, but it is also the last thing that most people want to think about. However, while it is always unnerving and a bit overwhelming to face your own mortality, most people report feeling a genuine sense of relief and well-being after taking the necessary estate planning actions. Many even report that doing so allows them to feel more free to enjoy life, knowing that if something were to happen, everything would be taken care of, just as they planned.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is essentially making a plan for exactly how you want your assets distributed after your death. Additionally, estate planning allows you to make provisions for how you want financial and medical decisions made during your lifetime if you become mentally or physically incapacitated or unable to make sound decisions for yourself. While no one enjoys imagining life after they have passed on, it can provide a great deal of comfort to know that your loved ones will be taken care of and provided for exactly the way you intended. Additionally, while many people think estate planning is limited to wills and after-death arrangements, the incapacity provisions, such as appointing a Medical Power of Attorney (POA) or having a healthcare directive or living will, are becoming increasingly important.

In the midst of a pandemic, there is so little certainty, and it is possible for things to change with regard to one’s health in the blink of an eye. Having a plan for who will make your medical decisions in the event that you are unable to, and ensuring that your loved ones will have access to necessary monetary funds and assets if you become incapacitated, can keep an already stressful situation from becoming disastrous. Importantly, it also gives you the ability to remain in control. Even in a situation in which you feel completely helpless, you can trust that your wishes and directives will be followed.

Benefits of Appointing a Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney (POA) is a document giving another individual the power to make decisions on your behalf. The power granted via a POA can be broad or narrow, limiting their decision-making power to a specific field, such as medical POA or financial POA. You can appoint a different individual as POA for your financial decisions and your medical decisions. There are a number of situations, beyond old age, that make appointing a POA both sensible and beneficial. For instance, someone joining the armed forces or getting ready to deploy overseas may want to appoint a POA. Front line workers and medical workers may benefit from appointing a POA due to the high-risk nature of their jobs. Individuals can also delegate individual responsibilities like real estate decisions, banking, government benefits, and medical bills via individual POAs.

It is important to understand that you can appoint a medical POA right now, but they will have no power to make medical decisions for you unless you become incapacitated. It is possible that you could appoint a medical power of attorney at age 30, live to 85, and never once have to use it. The point is that it provides you with the security of having an appointed individual available to act on your behalf, making the choices you would want made, in the event that you are unable to make them.

Benefits of a Living Will or Advance Directive

An advance directive is a document that expresses your wishes if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate. They provide your medical POA and your medical providers with instructions as to medical interventions you may or may not want to undergo under certain circumstances, such as when you are terminal. Advance directives are common and may be included in your medical records, where your doctors and hospital staff will have immediate access to them. In fact, millions of Americans have advance directives in their medical records.

In short, an advance directive allows you to tell doctors what you do and do not want, while you can still tell them, so if anything happens, you and your loved ones can trust that you are being cared for the way you would have wanted. This can relieve a great amount of anxiety for family members, who otherwise may be tasked with trying to figure out what you would have wanted in an already emotionally overwhelming situation.

Schedule a Consultation

The estate planning process can seem overwhelming, but it does not have to be. The experienced Central Pennsylvania estate planning attorney at Dusharm Law is here to help. Schedule your free consultation today, to find out how we can bring you and your family peace of mind now.

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