Estate Planning Services
POWERS of ATTORNEY
What are Powers of Attorney and Living Wills?
One of the most common questions we get from people both online and in person is relating to Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney. Usually it is from folks with an aging or ill parent or parents or parents of teens turning 18 and moving away from home (usually either traveling or away at school). Most haven’t heard of these documents or don’t know how to start the process and reach out for assistance.
We are always happy to explain how with powers of attorney in place they can take better care of their folks or teens. It is usually a HUGE relief when it comes to worry and to the amount of time they have to dedicate to resolve medical or financial issues that arise practically daily.
Powers of Attorney, Defined
A power of attorney is a written document that gives an individual (called an agent here in Arizona) power to act on your behalf. The scope of that power may be specific to a particular activity (e.g. closing the sale of your home) or general in its application to a whole variety of legal and financial matters. The document can also specify whether the powers will take effect immediately, or upon the occurrence of an event. Powers of attorney generally terminate upon the death of the person granting the power. Also, unless the power is “durable,” it generally terminates if the person granting the power becomes incapacitated. Both financial and medical powers of attorney work this way, yet we use two separate documents.
Financial Power of Attorney
This document allows the agent you choose to step in for you to handle your financial decisions. This includes simple things like paying bills to managing retirement accounts, to large undertakings like operating your small business on your behalf. Your agent doesn’t need to be an attorney, an accountant or other expert, just someone you trust who has a good common sense about these types of choices and is very dependable. Many people elect their spouse or older children to assume this role for them, but you can even hire firms to do this for you. Learn more about Financial Powers of Attorney HERE.
Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will
A Healthcare Power of Attorney elects a trusted agent to direct and make medical decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself. Again, this person should be someone you trust and can depend on to carry out your specific wishes, especially if others disagree.
In Arizona, we also strongly recommend a second document called a Living Will, which details specifically the types of medical treatment you would/would not like in certain situations. The decisions detailed in this document are the ones that are often dramatized on TV medical shows when a character is portrayed in a prolonged coma or requests not to be resuscitated (a DNR). Sadly these scenarios happen in real life all too often when people don’t have these documents in place which is stressful during an already difficult time. Terry Schiavo is one of the most famous examples. Learn more about healthcare docs HERE.
This is a very basic overview of these very important, detailed documents. There are of course other choices to be made next, such as Organ Donation. I highly suggest that everyone invest time in creating powers of attorney, a will, trust and real estate deeds in place sooner rather than later to be fully prepared should an illness or incident occur. If you're in the Tempe or Phoenix area and would like to learn more about Powers of Attorney, please contact us.
“I highly recommend Seiter Law for your estate planning. Marcus is highly knowledgeable and helpful. He helped me through the entire process of creating my trust, he was very patient and considerate with all of my questions. If you need an attorney for estate planning services, Marcus Seiter is one of the best!”
—Mary Dieleman Price
“Marcus did a great job helping us get all our materials in order to get our estate in order after moving to AZ. The process was painless, and he got everything in order for our signing and filing session. Very friendly and knowledgeable.”
“We were looking for a Family Trust attorney in our area and found Marcus Seiter. Marcus was very responsive to our needs and answered all our questions. He is professional and an expert. We filled out a questionnaire form and within a very short time our Family Trust was completed. Marcus was very patient with us as we asked a lot of questions. We are very pleased with our selection of Seiter Law.”
“We had such a good experience with Marcus. He is very knowledgeable and very thorough. He handled all of our affairs in a very timely manner. I would highly recommend him."
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“Marcus is a very talented attorney whose knowledge of providing a Family Trust is exceptional. He made us feel like we were very important to him and made sure we fully understood all aspects of documents before we signed any. We highly recommend his expertise to all future needs for your loved ones.”
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—Sandra Aaron Chelsy