In the estate planning process, it can be easy for a Massachusetts resident to focus on what will happen to her wealth after death.
This is of course a very important consideration, since no one really wants to see his fortune tied up in probate litigation or drained by taxes, legal fees and other expenses.
However, someone who is doing estate planning also should consider carefully what will happen as she ages or if she should suffer an unexpected medical setback because of illness or injury.
Many times, those in these situations will need help managing their financial and legal affairs, and they may need someone to step in and make critical medical decisions for them as well.
A durable power of attorney can assure financial decisions get handled
This is one reason why many residents of this state will execute a durable power of attorney.
A person actually has considerable flexibility in preparing a durable power of attorney. He will want to understand his alternatives and their legal implications.
Basically, this document gives authority to someone else, often a trusted family member or friend, to manage a person’s financial affairs. The authority can range from simple tasks like paying a bill or cancelling an unnecessary service to much more important legal and financial transactions. The person with this authority is called an attorney-in-fact.
The beauty of this type of power of attorney is that the attorney-in-fact can continue to handle a Massachusetts resident’s property even if the person is no longer physically or mentally capable of doing so.
It is very important to make sure that the attorney-in-fact is trustworthy since she can be difficult to remove from power once the person who appointed her is legally incompetent.
Health care proxies can cut down in confusion in difficult times
Individuals in this state should also consider appointing a health care agent. The health care agent may be the same person as an attorney-in-fact even if he is appointed in two separate documents.
When a patient is not able to do so, the health care agent has the authority to make decisions about medical care that otherwise may be up in the air or even a subject of dispute. An agent’s authority can extend to decisions involving life and death.