Serious accidents, illnesses or even death can devastate a family when a minor is involved, but when it is an adult with no estate planning documents, it can add to the stress of a terrible situation. What estate planning documents every adult needs includes important essentials such as a living will, a power of attorney for health care and a last will and testament, according to a 2019 study by Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. That study shows that just 18% of those 55 and older have those documents in place. Beck & Lenox Estate Planning & Elder Law’s mission since its founding in 1974 has been to educate all adults about this important need.
AZ Central’s recent article entitled “What to know about wills and health care power of attorney in Arizona” says that every adult should have these documents, including young professionals, single people and those without children.
These estate planning documents every adult needs make it easier for an individual and their family during a stressful time. They make your wishes clear. They also help give directions to family members and allow you to name a person you believe is the most responsible and able to fulfill your wishes.
Note that a power of attorney, living will and last will each has its own purpose.
A power of attorney for health care lets your named agent make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated, while you are still alive. Without a health care power of attorney or living will, it can complicate and delay matters.
A living will or “advance directive” is used when a person needs end-of-life care. This document can provide instructions on how the person wants to be treated, like not wanting a feeding tube or wanting as much medical help as possible. Beck & Lenox, in most situations, incorporates the living will into the power of attorney for healthcare.
In contrast, a last will and testament states what happens to a person’s estate or assets after they pass away. A last will names who will be in charge of the person’s estate, known as an executor or a personal representative. A last will can also designate a guardian for minor children.
You should name a primary representative and an alternate to serve on your behalf. Make sure you provide copies of the documents to the people chosen for these roles.
Beck & Lenox has three estate planning and elder law attorneys to advise on what estate planning documents does every adult needs. With a combined 79 years of experience, we can make sure you are legally protected, and that your wishes are documented for your family.
Reference: AZ Central (Jan. 14, 2021) “What to know about wills and health care power of attorney in Arizona”