Advance Directives are one of the most important parts of any estate plan. Advance Directives include healthcare proxies, funeral directives, and powers of attorney. Healthcare Proxies are used to appoint an agent to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them for yourself. Funeral Directives are used to appoint an agent to carry out your burial wishes. One of the main reasons for these documents is to avoid causing conflict or confusion for loved ones in the event of your illness or death.
A Power of Attorney with a Statutory Gift Rider is, perhaps, the only estate planning document that I recommend to every client. It is a very powerful tool which will allow your agent to make financial decisions on your behalf. It should only be given to someone you trust very much. When properly drafted, this document will allow your agent to do Medicaid and elder law planning for you in the event that you do not do this planning for yourself while you have capacity. In the absence of a Power of Attorney, a guardianship proceeding may be necessary. Guardianship proceedings are much more expensive and time-consuming than Powers of Attorney so it is generally considered preferable to avoid them if possible. However, if you do not have a family member or friend whom you can entrust with your financial decisions, then it may be appropriate to forego executing a Power of Attorney so that the courts will appoint and oversee a guardian for you in the event you lose capacity.
If you do not already have these documents in place, I encourage you to schedule an appointment to discuss the importance of advance directives as soon as possible.