Estate planning is just one of those things that people often wish to avoid or keep putting off.  Perhaps they prefer to keep their personal affairs private, maybe they cannot even consider their own mortality, or they have just never seemed to get around to it.  But, consider the fact that it is best to declare your various preferences while you can, before its too late.  My prior posts on the topic are linked as follows:

As you age; however, there are two other documents that I would suggest you consider, in addition to a basic Will. A Durable Power-of-Attorney, unlike a General P/A, remains in effect if you cannot act on your own.  It enables the designated person to handle your financial and administrative affairs on your behalf. A Health Care Surrogate allows you to name someone who can make medical decisions for you.  You can, in fact, name different people in the Durable P/A and the Health Care Surrogate documentation.

This question has recently come up with regard to adult children being able to discuss your medical situation with your doctors.  Generally, doctors and hospitals have forms you can use to provide such access for your children (generally just one); however, provide them with the Health Care Surrogate document, as well.  Depending upon your family situation, you might want to have access to children’s medical contacts too.

If your son or daughter lives out of your local area, you might also consider providing a close friend or relative with a copy of the surrogate documents.  In case of emergency, assuming that the close friend/relative might be at the hospital when your child arrives, you might want to give them a copy just in case the doctor/hospital cannot find their form.

Lastly, it is important that you consider confiding in whoever might be designated as your Executor in your Will, as well as named on other documents, and take them into your confidence.  Show them where your personal files (tax returns, brokerage and bank statements, insurance policies, etc.) might be, describe your finances and, if possible, arrange for them to meet your doctors, CPA, attorney, financial advisor, etc.  Make sure that they each have the other’s contact information.

NOTE: A General Power-of-Attorney usually becomes invalid when a person, naming the P/A becomes mentally or physically incapacitated, either permanently or temporarily.  The Durable, however, remains in effect.


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