A lot of people in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma have fallen victim to widely misunderstood estate planning ideas. This phenomena is entirely normal. Most of the general public do not have the background to sort through common myths and misperceptions about legal issues, especially those involving estate planning. Estate planning is not a thrilling subject and taking the time to understand the issues involved is not something a lot of people want to do. Today we will look at several of these more widely misunderstood estate planning ideas. While you should always talk to your attorney if you have questions, understanding these essential concepts can go a long way to help you understand what estate planning can do for you.
Widely Misunderstood Estate Planning Concepts: Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney has nothing to do with lawyers. As long as you are a capable and willing adult, you can use or serve under a power of attorney at any time. Powers of attorney simply name a chosen representative to make decisions for you. You don’t have to be an attorney, hire an attorney, or have any background in the law to make or use a power of attorney. Because powers of attorney are legal documents, it’s always best to have your lawyer create them for you and guide you as you use them.
Widely Misunderstood Estate Planning Concepts: Health Care Powers of Attorney
Health care powers of attorney allow the persons you name as your health care proxies to make medical choices for you if you are incapacitated. An incapacitated person typically cannot make choices, or if they can make choices, are unable to express them. The health care proxy serves as a stand-in and tells your health care providers what medical choices are to be made on your behalf.
Widely Misunderstood Estate Planning Concepts: Advance Medical Directives/Living Wills
Unlike last wills and testaments, living wills have nothing to do with inheritance choices. Instead, they allow your health care proxy to terminate life support under certain conditions. Commonly referred to as “advance directives,” this misnomer often leads people to wrongly conclude they are somehow more complicated or involved than other less-advanced directives. This is not true. Advance directives are so-named simply because you make them prior to (“in advance of”) needing them to communicate your medical wishes for you. While they must meet specific legal standards, they are not particularly advanced or complicated. If you do not have an advance directive, this is the time to do some “advance” planning.
Author, President and Founding Attorney
Parman & Easterday