For most people, a last will and testament, a living will, and a power of attorney are the most important legal documents that they have. Unfortunately, it is impractical for a layperson to understand the various nuances, legalese, and regulations that govern these instruments. Because even minor errors or omissions can have a widespread affect on the outcomes that these documents produce, it is important that these documents be prepared, reviewed, and explained to you by an attorney.
A last will and testament allows the testator to name one or more persons to manage his or her estate and provides for the transfer of his or her property at death, and may provide for the creation of trusts. When someone dies without this important document, the laws of the state govern the division and distribution of his or her property, without regard to the intentions of the deceased.
A living will (otherwise known as an “advanced healthcare directive”) governs what healthcare actions should be taken in the event an individual can no longer make decisions for himself or herself, due to incapacity or illness. The living will also appoints one or more persons to make such decisions (sometimes called a “healthcare proxy”), in accordance with the instruction contained in the living will, on behalf of incapacitated or ill person.
A power of attorney is a written authorization that allows one person (sometimes called an “attorney-in-fact”) to act on another’s behalf in private affairs, as though it were the official act of that other person. A power of attorney can be used for any number of purposes, such as business (proxy voting, for example), personal matters (one common use is bill paying for someone who is unable to manage his or her affairs), or other legal matters.
Again, because of the immense complexity of these various instruments, it is imperative that anyone interested in obtaining such a document consult with an attorney. The Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards is experienced in drafting and customizing wills, living wills, and powers of attorneys to fit the various specific needs of its clients.