Do I Need a Power of Attorney If I Have a Will?
Estate planning involves planning for the inevitable. When discussing estate planning, the first thing that comes to mind is the will. Its purpose is to designate beneficiaries for the bequeathment of assets, including cash, investments, and real property.
If you have a will, you deserve commendation for proactively preparing for an uncertain future. Yet, merely creating a will and filing it away to never look at it again is still not a good practice. It must be reviewed and (if necessary) updated.
There are also certain situations that need other documents, like a power of attorney. Here’s a quick look at whether you still need a power of attorney after creating a will.
The Importance of Power of Attorney
There is a common misconception that a power of attorney and a will have significant overlap or the same. There is also a misconception that merely creating a will also creates a power of attorney.
A power of attorney complements the will to an extent, safeguarding testators’ interests when living, all the way up until death. By establishing it, a trusted family member or friend is provided the authority to make crucial decisions on behalf of the testator.
It functions as an insurance policy of sorts. It ensures someone is legally empowered to make medical decisions on another person’s behalf in the event of incapacitation or severe illness.
It also highlights the financial decisions a trusted individual can make. Fail to establish it, and no one will have the legal power to make prudent decisions if the testator acquires physical or mental incapacitation.
Your Power of Attorney is not Your Will
Though some printable legal templates online make it seem as though a will and power of attorney are the same, the two serve different purposes.
A power of attorney provides peace of mind as a caring family member or friend will act in the testator’s best interest in unexpected situations (such as serious illness, an auto accident, or mental illness).
On the other hand, establishing a will sets the stage for distributing a testator’s assets to loved ones, friends, charities, or other groups.
Moreover, a power of attorney is a legal tool for making decisions while the testator is alive. A will details how property will be distributed after the passing away of the testator.
Furthermore, there is a distinction to be made regarding living wills. These documents typically center on issues or desires about medical care if the individual in question has a terminal condition. However, they usually do not cover certain medical problems, like a blood transfusion to improve health and increase the chances of survival.
It is in your interest to establish both a will and a power of attorney before you reach the point of severe illness or incapacitation.
Schedule a Consultation With Niswanger Law in Monroe, LA
Everyone in Monroe, LA needs and deserves a comprehensive estate plan. But estate planning tools—including power of attorney—are inherently complex and understandably intimidating.
Don’t fret! If you’re unsure whether you need a power of attorney or other estate planning documents, Niswanger Law is here to clarify all the pertinent details.
Call us at (318) 953-0071 or fill out this online form for a consultation. Our office is at 3814 Cypress Street, West Monroe, LA 71291.