Estate planning is an important topic that can be difficult for families to consider and discuss. Estate planning considerations often include the creation of a last will and testament, a living will or advanced directive, powers of attorney, and the designation of a healthcare agent. Major life events such as marriage, divorce, and adding children to your family often trigger the need for families and individuals to ensure that their estate planning documents are created and/or updated in order to protect their wishes and their loved ones.
A last will and testament is a highly important document that directs the executor of your will regarding how to distribute your estate and act upon your wishes for your personal property upon your death. For parents, perhaps the most important reason to execute a last will and testament is to provide for the guardianship and care of your children in the event of your death. Guardianship provisions in a will can specify exactly who you wish to care for your children upon your death, whether friends or family members, and how your children will be financially provided for by your estate after your death.
A living will, also known as an advance directive or an advance healthcare directive, is a legal document which specifies exactly how and whether you wish to receive medical treatment in the even that you are unable to communicate your own wishes at any point in time due to medical incapacity, such as in the case of a terminal illness, or being in a persistent vegetative state. In these situations, living wills allow you to specifically detail what type of treatment you wish to receive or decline, such as whether you would like to receive artificial nutrition or hydration. In North Carolina, a living will can be filed with a state registry in the Secretary of State’s office, to ensure that your advance directive is easily located in event of your medical incapacity.
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the ability to act on your behalf. Powers of attorney can be specifically drafted and executed to give another person a variety of levels of control over decision-making authority for you. For example, a healthcare power of attorney grants your designee, who becomes your agent, the specific legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are ever unable to do so. Comparatively, a general power of attorney grants your agent the ability the act on your behalf for a variety of decisions, largely financial, including managing your bank accounts and your estate. A power of attorney can be drafted very specifically to include your specific limitations on the control that your agent will be able to exercise on your behalf. Schedule an initial consultation today to begin planning for your future and protecting what matters most to you.
Lindsey Dasher is licensed to practice wills, trusts, and estates law in both North and South Carolina. A 30 minute initial consultation is the first step in creating an estate plan that protects your family.