Protect your health, your wealth, and your loved ones with these four legal necessities.
Uncertainty is rampant as we navigate the Coronavirus pandemic; but we do have complete control over one thing: how we plan for our health, our finances, and our loved ones.
Implementing the four estate planning documents (described below) should be an absolute priority as events unfold. We watch daily as COVID-19 affects members of our communities and catalysts a growing financial crisis.
Solem Williams & McKinley, P.C. is taking action by offering Discounted Estate Planning Services. Click the link to contact us, or read on for more information.
Top Priorities During COVID-19
1) Medical Power of Attorney
A Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) is a legal document that allows you to designate another person to make medical decisions for you when you cannot make decisions for yourself.
In Colorado, you have the legal right to make decisions about your own health care, including consenting to, or refusing, medical treatment. Most of us are accustomed to making these decisions for ourselves and communicating them directly to our health care providers. But there may come a time (for instance, if you are critically intubated) when you cannot convey your wishes - verbally or otherwise. To prepare for this possibility - it is essential that you have written documentation of your wishes. Such writings are referred to as advance directives. One type of advance medical directive is a medical power of attorney, also known as a health care power of attorney.
2) Durable Power of Attorney
A Financial (Durable) Power of Attorney is a document that grants legal rights and powers by you (the “principal”) to a trusted person (the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to make decisions on your behalf. The agent has the obligation to make decisions based upon your preferences and the authority granted in the document. An agent may not override your wishes.
Typical decisions include the ability to pay bills, cash checks, access your bank accounts, and make other financial decisions you would make on a daily basis. The agent is a fiduciary, which means that he or she must act with the highest degree of good faith. You can revoke an agent’s powers under a power of attorney at any time.
It is important to name an agent in a Durable Power of Attorney to avoid costly and time-consuming Guardianship or Conservatorship proceedings.
3) Living Will
A “Declaration as to Medical Treatment” lays out your wishes for medical care and end-of-life procedures in the event that you’re unable to speak for yourself, have a terminal illness, or are in a “persistent vegetative state.” The laws for a living will go into effect 48 hours after two doctors determine your state is covered by one of the circumstances listed above.
A living will details your wishes regarding
• Resuscitation directives (CPR/defibrillation) in case of cardiac arrest • Donating organs and tissue transplants • Using mechanical ventilation if you’re unable to do so on your own • If you want to be on a feeding tube and if so, for how long • Palliative care, including pain management • Receiving dialysis treatment • Use of antibiotics or antiviral medicines when you are near the end of life • Donating your body for scientific study
4) Last Will and Testament
A Last Will and Testament is the most important building block to any estate plan. It is a legal document that expresses your (the testator's) wishes as to how your property (estate) is to be distributed after death and to which person (executor or, in Colorado - personal representative) is to manage the property until its final distribution. A will is used to name beneficiaries of your estate and determine how your property is to be distributed among your heirs.
It is important to provide special provisions for your minor children, and to keep your will up-to-date. You may utilize codicils to update your current will.
Life is complicated. Estate Planning doesn't have to be.
Contact Solem Williams & McKinley today to get started.