When we talk to our clients about putting together a basic and effective estate plan, we always stress the importance of having a current, well drafted and comprehensive Power of Attorney as part of the plan. There are a lot of misconceptions about what a power of attorney is and how and when it can be used. The following article does a nice job of laying out some of the common misunderstandings that people have when it comes to these documents.
Why is a power of attorney such a vital and important element of a good estate plan? Well, most importantly it allows you to designate one or more individuals (your agents) who will be able to step into your shoes in the event that you become incapacitated. Namely and god forbid, but in the event you suffer a stroke or are rendered incapacitated by dementia or Alzheimer's, your agents would be able to immediately act on your behalf and to do all those things that you would ordinarily require your personal consent and permission. Having a power of attorney will eliminate the need for someone having to seek formal legal guardianship over you before being able to act on your behalf. Avoiding the need for guardianship will save your loved one's a tremendous amount of time, money and inconvenience.
In addition to some of the common misconceptions pointed out in the article, another extremely important thing to remember is that being married to someone doesn't automatically give you the ability to act on their behalf in the event they should become incapacitated. You'll still need a power of attorney before you'd be able to make decisions for or sign your incapacitated spouse's name on any type of legal document.
It it's been a long time since you last looked at your estate planning documents or if you've never put an estate plan in place to begin with, stop procrastinating. American Wills & Estates is a locally founded, owned and operated law firm that has been assisting clients in Pittsburgh and throughout Western Pennsylvania with competency, compassion and care for the past 25 years. Give us a call today at (412) 381-7370 to schedule your free legal consultation or visit our law firm online at: http://www.americanwillsandestates.com You'll be glad you did.