People's Law Guide
by Attorney Ghenete Wright Muir
When you no longer have a voice, estate planning documents can speak on your behalf. Estate planning documents include your will, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate and Living Will.
Your will is your opportunity to make decisions before you no longer have that choice. With your will, you determine who is able to participate in sharing your assets. If you have children, you are, amongst other things, able to name a guardian for your minor children. In your will, you also select a Personal Representative, commonly known as an Executor, who will ensure that your wishes are followed.
Most people may be avoiding preparing their will because they want to avoid thinking of the inevitable. Regardless, taking the time to have a will drafted ensures that your assets will be distributed as you desire. Without a valid will, the State laws determine how your estate will be distributed. This is called “intestate succession.” In this case your assets pass according to the intestate succession formula and you have no control over who inherits your property. In some cases, this intestate formula is what an individual would have planned. However, in many cases it is not. When there is no valid will, it often becomes a complicated and expensive process for the surviving family members.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney is your opportunity to select someone to handle your affairs in the event you become incapacitated. A Durable Power of Attorney can be used to give someone else the authority to sign contracts or other legal documents on your behalf and handle almost any legal issues on your behalf.
Health Care Surrogate
A Health Care Surrogate gives another person the power to make decision regarding your healthcare in the event you are unable to do so.
The Living Will became more well known due to the controversial Terri Schiavo case that concluded in 2005. The lack of a Living Will led to years of litigation to determine what Terri Schiavo would have wanted. The Living Will is the document that we all have the right to create, it directs the withholding or withdrawal of life prolonging procedures in the event of a terminal condition. Contact us for you free Living Will.
Notarized and Witnessed Documents
While these estate planning documents are not necessarily complex they must be witnessed in a specific manner described by law and it necessary to follow the required formalities in order for your documents to be valid. If you have the need, ask an attorney to review your current documents for validity. Wright Muir, P.A. will provide this service without any cost to you.
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