Kansas Estate Planning Attorney Asks, “Is Your Estate Plan Complete?”
Estate planning includes preparing for the disposition of your assets at the time of your death. It also includes preparing for how you will be cared for towards the end of your life. If your estate plan consists solely of a will, it is certainly a step in the right direction. However, there are additional documents that an estate planning attorney can help you create to ensure that matters related to your health and finances will be taken care of according to your wishes if you become incapacitated or if health problems prevent you from being able to manage them on your own. In Kansas, these documents are the living will, power of attorney for healthcare, and power of attorney for financial matters.
A living will specifies what you would like to happen as far as your medical treatment if you become terminally ill. It only takes effect after two doctors determine that you are indeed terminally ill. Additionally, it must be appropriately witnessed to be valid. Your attorney can help you add a living will, a durable power of attorney for health care and a power attorney for healthcare matters to your current estate plan.
The durable power of attorney for health care authorizes a specific person (your agent) to make decisions about health care decisions if you become unable to speak for yourself. The types of decisions that your agent can make include consenting to medical procedures, treatments, and services, or withdrawing or refusing consent to same. In addition to naming your agent, you can specify the scope of the agent’s responsibilities, and how you would want them to decide various things.
A power of attorney for financial matters is a document that you use to appoint a specific person (your attorney-in-fact) to step in and manage your finances If you become unable to handle them yourself (i.e., due to illness or infirmity). In such a case, your attorney-in-fact will be able to deposit money into your accounts, ensure that your bills get paid, monitor and manage your investments, collect financial benefits, and perform other finance-related tasks on your behalf.
Recent research by Wells Fargo indicates that two out of every five older Americans do not have the above-referenced documents in place. This leaves individuals vulnerable to potential financial abuse since they do not have their wishes set out to guide individuals who will have to make financial decisions on their behalf. In fact, one in every five Americans over the age of sixty-five experiences some form of elder financial abuse during their later years.
Once you have created the documents, make sure that they, along with your will, are stored in a secure and accessible location. Although they are secure, a safe deposit box or a lock box in your home are not the only safe, accessible places where you can store them. You can store important documents online, with companies like Everplan and other, similar providers. These online storage options will allow loved ones to access the documents when needed, from anywhere in the world.
To learn about estate planning in Kansas, schedule an initial consultation with Wichita attorney J. Joseph Weber by calling our office at (316) 265-7802. As an added convenience, you may also contact us through our website. We offer appointments Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we occasionally offer evening or weekend appointments.